Today I visited the “Reader” section on WordPress (my blog platform) to see if I could find other blogs with interesting stories about the elderly that I might be able to reblog onto my own. I typed in a couple of search terms, but struck out. Then I tried “old people.”
There were a lot of hits for old people. The problem is that many of them were blogs about being old; first-hand stories written by the site hosts. And no, the authors were not in the age group I usually associate with “old” (like my 88-year-old mother Ginny) they were in their 60’s and early 70’s. One such blog showcased the words “old person curmudgeonly griping ahead, be warned” as part of the first sentence in a post. Hyperbole? Maybe. Her photo places her nowhere near 80.
This idea freaked me out. Here I am doing research on “old people”, as I reasonably define it, and now I’m suddenly part of the category? To clarify, on my next birthday, I will be passing into a new decade that begins with 6. Ok, fine. I’ll be 60. I’m well aware that I’m not in my youth anymore, I’m not in some weird denial and I don’t do Botox, retinol or make-up tips or really anything to hide my age. (Well, ok. I do use Preference by L’Oreal. But THAT’S it.) I believe that I don’t hide it much because I don’t consider the need to – I’M NOT OLD.
My eyesight is telling me I’m no spring chicken (red flag alert – -using that term sends old person signals) because I squint reading prescription bottles and coupons and insurance disclaimers, but still, I’M NOT OLD?
These blogs appear to be suggesting that I’m awfully close to the line. As I see it, I am writing about my living parent which automatically assures me a spot on the “not that old” list. Right? Maybe I think this because I’ve heard friends say that when both parents pass, that layer is gone, you suddenly are the oldest generation of the family which instantaneously makes you feel old.
I wanted to use the term “youngish” to describe myself because I’m neither wholly young or old, but Merriam-Webster told me no can do. Youngish, apparently, falls on the side of young. Its definition is being in the early stage of life, growth, or development.
By default, I guess this leaves the word “oldish” to describe my age. But let’s be clear: I’m on the younger side of old.
I understand that if a reader were 13, I’m old. Or, my mother thinks I’m young. It’s relative to your own age. And that’s the point. Some of these bloggers are close to my own age, and they identify with old. It could be for blog purposes only. Either way, it was eye-opening and got me asking questions. I found a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes I like that keeps the definition of “old” more fluid:
I’m making a note to myself. I’m counting 15 years out. On my 74th birthday, I’ll take a mental pulse to see whether I’m feeling old yet. Either way, I’m good. According to Holmes, I can just move the goal post anyway.
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