Suffolk Humanists

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Growing old

Posted by Margaret on Thursday, May 27, 2004

I’ll be a pensioner in a couple of weeks. Does that mean I’m old? I don’t feel it, but I probably look it to small children who only see grey hair and wrinkles.

I don’t plan to grow old gracefully – where’s the fun in that? And the older I get, the less patience I have with people who waste my time, such a tele-salespeople, or whingers. I’m more inclined to speak my mind, which some find a less than endearing habit, but I think one can be too polite for your own good sometimes. I mean, if someone’s talking rubbish, I might not actually say ‘Don’t talk rubbish,” but I’m more likely to say, ‘I don’t agree.’

We older people have several advantages; we’ve lived longer, so we know more – well, some of us do – some never seem to have grasped anything useful over their sixty-plus years. Then we’re close to outnumbering young people, which means that they’ve got to start taking notice of what we want, what we think. In my Sunday paper the other week there was an article about the greater spending power of the active over-sixties, but still the fashion pages were full of waif-like girls who looked about twelve, wearing floaty outfits. I might want to wear a floaty outfit, but it’d have to be a bit bigger than the ones the waifs were wearing.

Although old age can be a pain because of incurable problems like arthritis, those of us who’re fortunate enough to live in the developed world have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, the body wears out, but age is all in the mind. I’ve known some very lively octogenarians and nonagenarians, like my friend Mary, who bought herself a computer and taught herself to use it when her grandson went abroad, so she could email him. An author called John Aiken wrote, ‘…the phlegmatic, inactive, dubious, desponding, and indifferent, as soon as the warmth and curiosity of youth are over, frequently become careless about the remainder of life, and rather consent to live on through habit, than feel themselves much interested in the continuance of their existence.’ You’ve seen them; those people who start practising being old as soon as they pass their sixtieth birthday, and get quite good at it.

Me, I’m too busy to grow old, yet. I don’t believe in an afterlife, as my mother did, so I’ve got to make the most of whatever time I have left.

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