Don’t Hate Me For Being Old. But Don’t Love Me For It, Either

aging, getting older, women as they age

Aging is something that happens without our permission. No matter what those ads say, it is permanent, irrevocable and out of our control. But, for god’s sake, stop ask me how I’m feeling!

I’ve written before about being old, not because I’m proud of it or sad about it or wanting to exploit my age when all else fails (okay, I may have done that), but whenever I do it I feel the need to apologize for even bringing it up.  Talking about old age is boring. It may be more boring than any other subject I know, except maybe that talk about having to walk a mile to school in a snowstorm. Without boots. Or a hat.

Aging is something that happens without our permission. No matter what those ads say, it is permanent, irrevocable and out of our control. In my case, aging doesn’t change who I am or alter the fact that I really, truly believe I’ll live forever. Crinkly skin and creaking bones aside, I’m doing okay.

But here I am, talking about it again.

I’ve been having trouble with one knee lately, so I’m using a walking stick. That damned stick has changed everything! Suddenly, people are all over me, wanting to help. They lean into me (in case I’m hard of hearing, too) and use their best Kindergarten voices to let me know they’re there and they’re ready to help.

My god, I’m in Hell.

Sometimes I do need help. Don’t we all? But it’s not because I’m old, it’s because help is what I need.

Something else has happened: Now, suddenly, because I walk with a stick and look the way I do, I am no longer capable of helping anyone else. Those days are over, either permanently or until I can throw away the crutch, dye the gray away, get Botox treatments, remove those eye bags, pull that chicken neck tighter, suck in that gut, and lift those useless, drooping boobs. (Can somebody please tell me why boobs keep growing as we age?  Don’t we have enough trouble staying upright?)

I can still walk a mile (though much slower and not in your shoes), troubleshoot my own and my daughters’ laptops, drive across the state without being afraid of flashing blue lights behind me, and virtually, though not literally, kick ass when certain politicians get out of line.

I can still laugh and joke and at least seem like I know what I’m talking about. I used to be pretty good at Trivial Pursuit,but now the answers seem to have to struggle through the tangles of my brain.  (I hear their teeny-tiny voices saying, “Wait!  I’m coming!” so I know they’re on their way.) But, since Trivial Pursuit isn’t my life’s calling, I’m okay with it. I’ll manage.

So please let me help when I offer to help. It may take me a little longer to get the thing done but I promise I won’t offer to do more than I’m able.

Do me a favor: Do not smile and coo and throw roses my way because I’m old. My age doesn’t require congratulations. It’s the least of who I am. And, for god’s sake, stop asking me how I’m feeling. I feel like steaming horse dung some days but I felt dung-ish some days when I was young, too.

In fact, do me another favor:  Ignore everything I’ve said here. Pretend we never had this conversation.

I’m really not myself today.

Ramona Grigg is a freelance columnist and blogger living on a remote island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.. She owns the liberal-leaning blog, Ramona’s Voices, and is a regular contributor at Liberaland and Dagblog. She was a charter subscriber to Ms Magazine and wishes she had hung onto that first issue.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/in the public domain

  • tamarz

    no — I won’t ignore what you said because it’s exactly on target!

    • Thank you, tamarz. No matter what I said up there, it’s good to not be ignored.

  • HighFashionAverageWoman

    Powerful words, Ramona! and so true. I’m in my mid 50s and I hate the idea of getting older because of the way others may perceive me. Our youth oriented culture, coupled with very bad stereotypes in our visual media conspire to make others see us as infirmed or senile. Things about us change from when we were young–all of us change. Yet our culture says “don’t change.” A lot has to be done to put positive messages out there. Thanks for yours

  • PiaSav

    I saw how people treated my mother when she became part of the “frail elderly.” Doctors would speak to me not her—and I would have to tell them to speak to her not me as it was her eyesight that was gone not her mind.
    She went from being the most confident life loving and affirming person I knew to somebody who was scared—and it was all because of the way people treated her and she perceived others would
    I have always believed in moving out of my comfort zones–new careers, a 180 in lifestyle–from the Upper West Side of NY to a small beach city in SC where I knew one couple, and hope that this all helps me stay vibrant but….

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