Please check out this You Tube video! Donnalou Stevens has given all of us “divine older ladies” a voice!
A few weeks ago Blogher mentioned that this day’s comment is “what is old:, so I began writing my thoughts on the subject. Like so many others posts, though, I never got around to finishing it until today.
What is old? This thought enters my mind from time to time. When I was a teenager, I remember thinking that 30 is definitely “old”. In my 30’s, it had moved to 40. When I reached 40, I decided that 60 is “old”.
Well, now I’m 60; and I’m surprised because I don’t feel “old” at all. My mind says that I’m 60, but my body doesn’t feel that way. I’ve had friends who said their body feels 60, but not their mind. I think “old age” will be when I’m in my 80s.
I guess you can tell that as I age it has become a moving target.
There’s more! What about all this talk about 40s being the new 30s and 50s being the new 40s. To me it sounds like all of us age-obsessed baby boomers are trying to square it all away in our delusional-collective minds.
Let’s face it, we all look better from a distance in diffused lighting. I love these digital cameras and the bookoodles of pictures that we can take. If I don’t like the way I look, I delete it. I can decide to throw out any photo that makes me look older, but I digress.
I know when I got to be 40, I thought surely this cannot be middle age; and not too long ago I questioned whether middle age ended at 50 or should the senior years begin at the end of our 60s.
Chuck lost a colleague of his own generation last week. They worked together when both of them were in their youthful 30s. Yesterday we went to the viewing, and we happened to be the only two people in the room.
I stood back and watched Chuck look down on his friend’s closed coffin. The sunlight from a window above cast an ethereal ray on Chuck. He looked so forlorn, standing there, silently gazing and lost in his thoughts. I wondered if he were remembering their youthful moments during those days now so far away in time.
I noticed lately that Chuck’s jackets are looking too big on him. He is losing muscle mass. He looked so small standing there. I teared up. It was touching.
I have no idea what was really running through his mind, but I could imagine. Here he is about to retire, and this friend has moved on from this earthly place and moment in time. It must have suddenly hit him that this is yet another milestone–in a series of milestones.
I wrote this when we talked Chuck into switching to an iPhone about five years ago. Here’s what happened.
For the longest time I was after my husband to switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone. The Result? Well? Oh dear! What was I thinking?
We told Chuck that his cell phone was a dinosaur. I tired of him handing me his Blackberry every time he ran into a jam. Such a long since I owned one, I couldn’t remember the procedures anymore. I got frustrated.
Also, Chuck loved all my apps. He hogged my cell, especially when we were traveling. He loved that he could get his college football team’s games no matter where we were. And he lusted after my cell, but not enough to make the change to the iPhone.
Well, all that changed just before the Christmas holidays. After a year of nagging, he got his new iPhone 5s, and the real trouble began.
He didn’t like the keyboard. He had trouble answering the phone. Half the time he handed it to me to answer, even when I was driving. He couldn’t tell if it was charging. He couldn’t close his apps. At one point he even complained about an app and finally said that his Blackberry could do a better job. I reminded him that his Blackberry didn’t have apps or the ability to do it at all.
And don’t get me started about misbehaving apps, of which there seems to be a few since all the app providers hadn’t upgraded their apps to operate with the iOS 7. Thank goodness for young people. One of them finally showed me how to do something as simple as killing an app using the iOS 7. Can you tell that I never upgraded my 4s to the iOS 7? I’m no Spring chicken, and as you can tell I had problems of my own. I’m a bit of a dinosaur myself.
Chuck kept forgetting to turn his cell off, and many times he forgot to hang up the call. Several colleagues told me that they could still hear him talking over the sounds in the background. I hope he didn’t give away any trade secrets!
He pocket dialed more than half the people in his office, numerous times; and our kids got so many pocket calls that it was a running family joke. My daughter Jamie said that one day while she was in a meeting she had to turn her iPhone off, because he kept pocket dialing her. The vibrate was running down her phone battery.
I asked, “Have you used Siri yet?” Chuck said, “No” looking confused. I said, “Do you know what it is?” He said, “No.” I said, “Ok, that’s good.”
After getting his new iPhone, it was literally weeks of whining and fussing. Chuck was driving me crazy!
At one point he asked me if I thought it was waterproof. Waterproof? He told me that he wanted to drop it in the toilet to find out. I kept my mouth shut, and silently hoped he would.
Plus, Chuck loses everything and drops things. This is the same man who dropped his IPad three floors down on to an atrium with marble floors. They’re probably still talking about that in the Capitol. It is a wonder his new iPhone still had its screen intact.
And then, the ultimate. One of his elderly friends said to Chuck, “Whatever you do, don’t upgrade it to an iOS 7.” Oh boy! We had already done that, and his sweet blond secretary told him so.
The complaining had just about stopped, when this set him off again. We listened to several more weeks of complaining about how the upgrade was why his iPhone was so difficult to use.
Maybe for me, but certainly not for him. When in doubt, he just hands it to me!
We tried to explain that he never had the earlier operating system, and that his friend probably upgraded a 4 or 4s to the iOS 7. And that he really doesn’t have anything in which to compare. We may as well have been speaking Greek! He said, “What?”
(Big eye roll here.)
Remember how I told him that his Blackberry was a dinosaur? Well, I kind of forgot that Chuck is, too. We just gave a new kitten to a dinosaur. What was I thinking? All he really wanted was something in which to answer the phone and occasionally send a very short email.
Several times during those days, I thought to myself, “Dear Lord, just kill me now!” But of course, this too passed.
I never knew there was a swamp across the street from Winn Dixie, until my grandfather pulled out in front of someone one Saturday afternoon. The lady’s mangled car plowed into the woods over there and down into that swamp. He said, “that woman, she just came flying out of nowhere.” Thus, he was my first memory of a senior driving–or at least the first one I really noticed.
The police said that the lady was driving well under the speed limit. Thanks to seat belts, both were fine; but granddaddy a few days later bought a brand new pickup truck. He was 90. Now that is optimism!
A few months later, that new truck almost mowed me down on a sidewalk. If it hadn’t been for my friend, I wouldn’t be here today. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a vehicle bounce up on the curb just as my friend yanked me out of the way. The truck bounced back down into the parking spot, and my granddaddy climbed out and jaywalked across the street to the hardware store as if nothing happened. He noticed neither one of us.
Taking the Keys Away
My friend said, “you people need to do something about your grandfather’s driving.” I’m thinking as if that will ever happen. We would surely have to pry those keys out of his cold, dead fingers.
You see, granddaddy was 90 something when he chased one of the running great-grandbabies down before she could reach the street. He was still agile and could run. We were all there, but he didn’t yell for one of us to do something. He just took care of the problem, just like he always did. I can still see those old long legs striding across that lawn. He was a tall man, even in his old age. He was still strong and didn’t think that his senior driving privileges should be curtailed in the least.
Looking back I guess we should have known that his driving was a problem. Our younger teenaged cousins told us that they were afraid of his driving back when he was in his early 80s. They discovered this while on a trip to the mountains with granddaddy and grandma. My cousin said that he would rather get on any roller coaster anywhere than get in granddaddy’s truck in the mountains. You know it’s serious when the teenagers refuse to ride with him.
Granddaddy has passed now. We never took his keys away. He finally fell and broke his hip about a year later. His truck set in his driveway throughout his eight months of therapy, but he never recovered enough to walk again. We certainly didn’t encourage him to go back to driving, and thankfully he never tried.
Spatial Errors in Driving
My mother-in-law’s driving was legendary, too. We have a drive-way that encircles a garden in our front yard. It is about fifty feet across; and it has several rose bushes, a small tree at one end and lots of liriope surrounding it. About once every two months, you could tell that someone had driven through it.
I was always fairly certain the someone was my mother-in-law, and I knew for sure when I watched her drive through it one evening. The headlights bounced through shining up in the trees and down into the bushes on each side of the driveway. Surely, she knew that she had run over something. Thankfully, though, she always missed the roses; but the liriope on one side was stunted and the tree sort of leaned. She, too, became a classic senior driver in our family. She, too, was in her 90s.
Her garage door looked like a war was waged inside. It bulged out in several places, where she tried to drive out before remembering to raise the door. She also tried to close the garage door before completely backing out one day. It closed on her hood. Her hood was all bent up, but it was several months before we found out what really happened. Her friend finally let the cat out of the bag.
So we have had our moments with the senior driving, but it still did not prepare me for this.
We were almost home from the Thanksgiving holiday, after a long day of driving across four states. I did most of the driving because I handle the interstate better than my husband who is ten years my senior. So you can see why I gave him the wheel at our last stop before home. We were less than 30 miles away with nothing but blue highways to go. I was tired, and the kids sent me a couple of texts that I wanted to answer.
Just before we got to the house, Chuck stopped at the local CVS. I’m still texting, and he says, “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” I never look up, but then I realize that our car is moving, as in rolling backward. He is already halfway into the store, and I yelled, “Chuck! Chuck!”.
Panic sits in. I looked over at the brake. I am no contortionist. At my age climbing over into the driver’s seat in a little Rav4 will take some painful maneuvering. I’m still rolling back across the parking lot downhill toward the busy street. Chuck is already pulling at the driver’s door, but we’re going too fast. Then thank goodness I remember the handbrake. God bless the person who put it in between the seats. I pulled it, and the car stopped.
Chuck, who is always the calm one, gets in and pulls the car back up into the parking place. He makes sure I’m ok, and then this time he puts it in park and goes inside. I was stunned.
My mind began to race, as I pulled the pieces together. It has been almost five years since my mother-in-law passed away, but lately, I noticed that someone has been driving through my garden again. I also noticed as mentioned earlier that Chuck’s driving on the interstate is not good, too much floating over the line. And don’t get him talking about anything because all of a sudden we’re going 45 miles an hour in a 70 mile an hour speed zone. He seems to forget that he is driving.
Night driving is becoming a problem. When turning, especially left, I think he cannot see the lines. He slows and seems to be feeling his way through the dark left turn. I’ve asked him about it, but he says that everything is fine. Like granddaddy, Chuck is driving slower and slower. I remember thinking that surely granddaddy’s driving couldn’t be all that unsafe because he drove so slowly.
So we finally left CVS. I’ve finally settled down, and I’m looking at my texts again when I realize that we’re slowing down for a green light. Lately, I’ve noticed that he slows far too much in advance of a light. I say, “Chuck, the light is green.” He’s red-green color blind, and I’ve always noticed a moment of hesitation when coming to a light. He begins to accelerate, but we’re still rolling slowly when the light turns yellow. I’m thinking he’ll just stop now, but instead he floors it and accelerates through the “now” red light. He says, “I guess I’m a little tired of driving”.
Oh my God! I’m thinking, “there’s your sign”. He napped off and on–while I drove all day–and now he says “I’m tired?”
Thank the Lord, there was no traffic in the intersection, but we will pay–because we’ll get another one of those red light photo tickets in the mail–like the one he got about a month ago.
Oh dear! It hasn’t been an entire decade since the kids moved out of the house and our car insurance premiums got back to normal. Sigh! I guess we’ve officially entered the senior driving zone.
Did you have someone in your life who scared you when they drove? Were they a senior? When should someone take their keys away? Or should they?
Around age sixty, each of us realizes that we might have to go through some type of downsizing. The kids are gone; and obviously, we have too much room in our homes. The prospect of this haunts me. 😱
I recently found an interesting Houzz article called “Tips for Moving into a Smaller Space”. Trying to ignore the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I initially decided not read it, but I couldn’t help myself. I know that this day is coming. Downsizing frightens me.
I’m over sixty, and Chuck is even older. From time to time we talk about the next move in our life. You know. Like what happens to older people when their home gets too big for them. It is time maybe to move on. Mostly, it is called downsizing.
Our home is large and sits on about five acres of land. In days passed, we entertained a lot so the house is full of things that fit that lifestyle–both indoors and out. We lived here for over 25 years. Entertainment for us was more career-centered when we were younger, but now it is centered around family and our retirement, especially as our children’s families grow.
We have two more homes. One is a vacation home that is very small, maybe 1,100 sq ft. The other is an old home place that is a little under 2,000 sq. ft. and has very sentimental memories surrounding it. Probably one of these will be our next home.
The Pain of Downsizing
So here is what concerns me. I have had a ten-year struggle with simply trying to downsize the number of clothes in my closet. It has been a chore, so this big “whole house” downsizing project that I know I will face in the not too distant future worries me a lot.
For years I’ve been trying to live within my means–that is, within the size of my closet. I love clothes. I love shoes. And I love purses. But I have too much stuff. My husband says that he cannot understand how I am always out of closet space, yet never have anything to wear. 🤔
I know I’m not alone. Some of my friends gave up and converted one of their kid’s bedrooms into a giant closet. I decided not to take that route, but I was certainly tempted.
Every once in a while, someone passes around a joke about how many black pairs of shoes that American women have. It is meant as an exaggeration, but deep down I know that they are describing me.
So how many pairs of black shoes do I actually own? I just counted; and if you count the flip flops, formal wear shoes, summer and winter shoes, and even a pair of black riding boots, I have 22 pairs. Oops! I almost forgot the black pair of Wellies in the garage.
And I feel that I really need every single pair of my black shoes. Different heel heights for different clothes…patent leather for summer…kid leather…boots…slingbacks….wedges…..I’m convinced they are all important. Everyone knows you cannot wear the velvet ones in the summer, and you cannot wear the linen ones in the rain. It’s a real first world problem.
I just read that the average woman worldwide has 20 pairs of shoes, period. Are you kidding me? I had no idea. I guess the joke is on me, and now I’m feeling a bit spoiled.
How I Got This WaySo you can see my dilemma. How do I give up these clothes, shoes, and purses? Part of my problem is always wearing it even if there really aren’t enough days in the season to wear all of them. I spent my hard earned dollars purchasing it, so I feel I have to wear it. The situation is ludicrous when I really think about it.
I don’t spend a lot of money on any one garment because I shop the sales. Never buying at full price, I even usually wait until things have been picked over. Frankly, I learned a long time ago that retailers overbuy and that there are too many retailers in the business of selling clothes. There is always plenty left for me at the end-of-the-season sales.
But I decided I had to do something about my bursting-at-the-seams closets.
Making Downsizing a Game
About a year ago, I made it a game. I decided that I cannot bring anything new into my closets or chest of drawers without getting rid of two items. It was easy at first, but later it got harder. I got down to ridding myself of garments hardly worn, though they were getting to be a little out of style.
It has been a good exercise. I finally have room in my closet. In the past couple of weeks, I scaled back and began to cycle one garment in and one garment out. My daughter enjoyed the extra shoes and blouses that came her way.
My closet is still full, but not overly full. I finally have room.
A Simpler Lifestyle will be Good
Any of the smaller homes that I foresee in our future have very limited closet space, as most people do. I know I’ll need to make many changes. I’ve read about and talked to numerous people who have gone through this, and they assure me that it is actually very much a relief to let go of all the extras in our lives.
I have to admit that when I was cycling out two garments for every piece that I gained, I got a taste of this. It was like someone lifted me from a fog. I liked the feeling. I think I just have to dwell on that–on the simplicity of living with less.
And I’ll get a little help from this Houzz article entitled Tips For Moving Into a Smaller Place.I said before, this future move scares me to death; but whenever it arrives, I’ll just take it one day (or one room) at a time.
So have you been thinking about downsizing lately? Or have you already gone through this rite of passage? Any advice?