Blog: When is a Person 'Old'?

Michelangelo, at the age of 87, is rumored to have said, "I am still learning."

Understanding the vagaries of the Senior mind (and I swear I see signs of this condition in and behind the empathetic eyes of 10-year old Sadie, my free-loading Chihuahua who has healing properties you wouldn't believe!) promises to be the challenge of the century for the medical profession.  

Immediate family members already know they need to keep some of us on a tight rope; and I can say this, without rancor, as I recall spitting out the colorful expletive "#$@*&!@$$$" in Dana's car on the way to Hobby Lobby.  Still a bit ticked hearing my four companions laugh aloud when I was so serious...it was a term I picked up 80 years ago...what's the problem?  They "counseled" me and I will share that with you later.

Remember Laugh In and those scenes where comic Arte Johnson, in character, would say so drolly..."Verrry in-ter-es-ting"?  From where I am sitting, the kidlets may want to buy an extra supply of duct tape and soap.  Medical books tell me it could go either way...we Seniors can "retreat" or assume an attitude of "Damn the torpedoes!"  The latter sounds more in-ter-es-ting!

Lately, my roaming, wandering, flight-of-fancy (for that is what "vagary" means) mind has been pondering the ramifications of leaving the more simplistic age of 87 years and embracing the big 88.  As April 21st looms ever closer, and it's true: time, just like a pig can, does fly.  Sometimes I am a bit apprehensive, but short of fearful; and then, sometimes, out of the blue, comes a Facebook post that puts a spin on age that I can live with.  The daunting task of balancing getting older on that proverbial scale of aging has now turned into the most exciting challenge of my life...and, hopefully, for others of my ilk.  (Consider this Blog a "prescription" for the Senior reader and if it works, then we both owe Admiral David Farragut a "cold one.")

I refuse to be daunted by this boundless task, and you want to know why? 

Michelangelo, at the age of 87, is rumored to have said, "I am still learning." 

This quote was sent along by a Facebook friend, Thomas B. Nielsen and a nephew of a former Atlantic, Iowa classmate/neighbor of mine (LeRoy) which makes it pretty much indisputable, and reassuring.  Michelangelo and I now have something in common, and it is not his explicit rendition of David...(that's an "Oh, my goodness!" artifact according to my small-town way of thinking, and can do no more than take a quick glance, twice.)

Being the many shades of Irish soul that I am, I embraced his post as a "sign." that if such a fanciful figure as Michel can admit, in a roundabout way, to being open in acknowledging certain "deficiencies," then what can there be to lose by my putting down a few words on arcadia.patch on what my also-wondering mind has acquired while pursuing my personal learning curve these past fourscore and seven years and what remains yet unknown and, therefore, to behold.

Risking my reputation these days doesn't bother me as much as it did as a kid growing up in Buck Town though I will not tolerate family, friends or foe making the author less of the "old broad character" that she happily claims to be.  (I do intend to clean up my act in case Bryan Cranston decides to reach out for more family history...I've got to believe that Bryan and I share the same humor DNA, witness his remarks in accepting his SAG awards for Breaking Bad and Argo Sunday last..."At least for tonight I am well-endowed!"  There is no one punnier than a happy sober Irishman...)

On a more serious note and truth be known, not much earth-shattering evolution has taken place "within" but much "without" has in my Octogenarian walk-about.  At the bent knees of my Mom and Dad, I learned early on that "keeping of out jail" was a priority in our family because the News Telegraph printed everything.  We, on the other hand, met daily deadlines with births, weddings, deaths, picnics at Sunnyside Park and an occasional two-week visit from Aunt Molly and Uncle Russ Hodges from Bellflower, California.

What I was taught and learned and lived as a kid in Atlantic has evolved into an "Internal Moral Compass" that has popped up on occasion when temptations, temper tantrums and tribulations do their utmost to upset my personal "apple cart." 

That will not change this late date nor would I want it to for lessons learned also included the need to understand others' points of view, forgiveness, empathy and sympathy and, perhaps most of all, humility.  Humility did not come easily (false bravado did) to those of us who called Buck Town our community as we were also taught to take pride in our somewhat blighted area; and we were at-the-ready to take on (verbally) anyone who cast dispersions on its inhabitants.  Looking back, it would seem that we were "over-prepared" to stand ground.  Class President Dr. Dale N. Anderson of Topeka, Kansas, has in his keeping a likewise aging banner claiming our Class "Best Ever!" ... it was all-inclusive. 

It's amazing what a few "share-and-tell moments" at Reunions will do to clear the air, do "rights" and undo "wrongs," give credits long overdue and sing worthy praises right along with "On Atlantic!"  No foreseeable date has been set for another Class of 1943 Reunion due to usually inclement weather, advancing age and "enough is enough," Mr. President! 

Back to Michelangelo:  as Morning Joe asks exiting his 3-6 a.m. television program, what have we learned today? 

Wearing my Big Girl Jeans (figuratively) I have come up with two Categories geared to the Seniors' Sense and Sensibilities:  To Do and Ain't Gonna Happen!  Take from these suggestions what you will, it could lengthen your lifetime by at least a score or you could just possibly score!

To Do - Wear red or any shade thereof.   If there is a bit of glitter woven into the fabric, so much the better.  The Majordomo will be more apt to spot you in the line at The Derby as will the nice elderly gentleman seated at the next table.  OTOH. glitter goes with any color, be modestly adventurous!

Ain't Gonna Happen - submitting a book report on Fifty Shades of Grey to Huffington Post anytime soon.  How Anastasia got so "worldly" by the time she was 23 and Christian so Wall Street rich by the time he was 28 staggers my imagination, and that is all I am going to say on the subject.  Perhaps the forthcoming movie can explain their shenanigans to the both of us!

To Do - carry a notebook or yellow legal pad at all times.  This has been my mantra since the age of 70 years or at least since I started Blogging about two years ago, I don't remember.  Jot down stuff that your kids tell you to add to your calendar, date bedsheets were last changed, February 26th (the Oscars-ABC-4 p.m. PT) and (for wanna-be Bloggers) "nonsense" that adds length to your Blog, if not sense.  You will all thank me for this later.

Ain't Gonna Happen - one of the most important take-aways I learned from Fifty Shades of Grey is that "eye-rolling" is an art and best applied when expressing content or discontent at smarmy remarks, spotting giggling Seniors holding hands at the Mall, .... David!   I wonder if Temple City's Dial-A-Ride...no, never mind!

To Do - Out with the negative, In with the positive!  Welcome differences in opinions, fashion sense, faith, cultures and gendered life styles.  Be that tie that binds...your well-worn "apron strings" could be a lifeline, tender both!

Ain't Gonna Happen - walking away from future confrontations without saying, "I am sorry you feel that way."  Your gait may be slower these days so do this only after having mastered the art of rolling your eyes.  Leave 'em laughing!  (Result of free counseling session on way to Hobby Lobby...)

To Do - Challenge yourself (short term, long term) in a soul-satisfying way, be it saving for an IPad, volunteering your help to an organization where there is an all-inclusive ring of laughter, or doing a random act of kindness on a moment's whim (stretch that S.S. check once more by paying the restaurant tab for that nice young couple with the two little tykes).  As you gracefully age, today and tomorrow, make your own unforgettable footprint...for again as Tom quotes:  "What is the age of a sunset?"

'Til the next time,


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Betty L (Cranston) Derry January 29, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Doc...Thanks, Cuz....and you wear it so well! :)
SandraT January 29, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Fun read, Ms. Derry, thank you! :o)
Betty L (Cranston) Derry January 31, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Thank you, Sandra! Mission accomplished...:)
Eric Hanson July 01, 2013 at 02:52 AM
My friend Betty Derry passed away June 21st, 2013. Although I never met her, her spirit was embraceable and unbreakable. R.I.P, Betty.
SandraT July 01, 2013 at 12:28 PM
NO! :o( Omg, what a terrible loss. Such an amazing talent of insight and wisdom. My condolences to Dana and all Betty's family, friends and colleagues. She will certainly be missed dearly.


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