WINTER DREAMS


MANY WINTERS by Nancy Wood

If I had known before, all the things I know today,

I would have begun my life as an old woman.

Tricked by old men telling me there was nothing to fear

Except leaving my youth behind.

What would have been the fun of that?

What home would my mistakes have had?

It is better this way.

Now I can wish for my youth to come back.

Just so I can tell it, how old age is nothing buy

Remembering how rich the green fields looked

Despite the lack of rain.

IT ISN’T EASY BEING OLD


Crow Print by Marvin Oliver

It’s a shame that just when you get comfortable being youngish, you suddenly find yourself being classified as “elderly”. You see strangers being referred to as elderly when in their 70’s. I suppose we are lucky that the longest period of our lives is called middle age. But the middle of what?

What makes us “old”? Since Dr. A, at the age of 91, is often seen out and about, either walking Charlie or sweeping leaves, he is often offered help; either to get up if he is pulling a weed, or loading a bag of compost into the car. Shaking his head, he wonders if they think he is old. I always use the line uttered by Hermine Gingold to Maurice Chevalier “Oh no, not you.”

The question is not so much how we look. Obviously the years take their toll in ways we would rather not think about. The story inside a beat-up second hand book is just as good as when the book was new. I a heard young man the age of forty something complain that he was getting “old”.

The First Wednesday group met last week and celebrated two more 90th birthdays. We were joined this time by two daughters, one granddaughter, and a little great-grandson. Generations in action. I began paying more attention to the questions my friends asked. One asked me if any of Dr. A’s old friends were left.The answer has been “no” for many years. Another asked if I were still cooking. The answer is “yes”, she was not. Another asked if my hearing was still good. She had just got hearing aids, and doesn’t like them. I have never heard of anyone who loved wearing them. They fall into the same category as false teeth; an unavoidable necessity.

Do all these things make us old? No, they are the exterior signs of lives well spent. If we are given the gift of age, it behooves us to do the best we can to get on with it. Dwelling on what we have lost is boring and non-productive.

Having said that, I visited the eye doctor again yesterday for a new glasses prescription. Something glamorous and sexy and makes me look 65 again would be nice. Before this can be achieved, you review the same old tests everyone takes to determine how much you can actually see. The result was neither more nor less than I expected, since my eyesight has been failing regrettably faster than I thought.

On the last visit, they showed me a few magnifying devices said to help failing eyesight. Yesterday there were a whole shelf full of lighted ones, a couple to wear on your head, though I couldn’t find the buttons meant to work like binoculars. Strange looking things which would scare the dog into thinking you came down from an unknown planet.

I have found that some things, like youth, cannot be recaptured; sight being one of them. We need to go with the flow as long as the river runs.

Back to my original question, “What makes us old?” It isn’t the loss of our looks, or the loss of our capabilities. It’s the loss of hope. The loss of interest in new things. The loss of someone or something to care about, or who cares for us. All those things are at the core of Life. If we lose them, yes, we are old, and it isn’t easy being old.
As a good friend called over his shoulder the other day while leaving the house, “Old age sucks!”

SENIOR COMPANIONSHIP


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To love and be loved. Isn’t that what we all want? While meeting with my group of high school “girl” friends yesterday, we discussed the dating habits of the old and much older. While feeling blessed to still have the love and companionship of Dr. A after nearly 70 years, I am aware that none of my other friends share this with me. Sunday seems to be the loneliest day of the week for most older women. During the week there are things to do, but Sunday drags on until Monday.

One friend recently moved to a lovely senior complex in Walnut Creek with park-like surroundings and nice individual homes. She is enjoying everything about it including the other residents. But she says she gets a little jealous when she see couples walking together, perhaps holding hands, and wishes she had that same opportunity. This is the same lady who rolls her eyes when she hears about her granddaughter living with her boyfriend in Italy without the benefit of a marriage license.

This disclosure opened up a lively discussion whereby some ladies thought it ridiculous at “our” age, and several others smiled and nodded while thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

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Yes, old people still have sex. That may shock some young people thinking there is probably a cut-off button somewhere in the 60 year range. Apparently nursing homes and senior residences are rampant with horny old people, who unbeknownst to the rest of us, still need to be cautious about HIV/Aids.

I was amused that our conversation bounced between “having done that once why would I want to do it again”?—to “it would be nice to have someone to have dinner and go to the movies with”.

Several years ago when one friend was a young 90 years old, she voiced an interest in a gentleman of the same vintage who lived across my street. She hoped I would introduce them, but since he was a grouchy old fellow, I told her she probably wouldn’t like him. Shortly thereafter he took up with a lady who lived near his vacation home. My friend is still lonely on Sundays.