Recently I posted on Face Book that in a few months I would be “officially” old. Not that I feel old even though wrinkles are increasing, I grow tired more quickly, and my calendar has multiple medical appointments every month. The numbers keep clicking past, and it is time to face reality. The goal of enjoying old age instead of becoming a grumpy curmudgeon is helped by deciding what is worth continuing, creating new experiences, spending more time with family, nurturing treasured friendships, and overlooking the trivia that annoys us.
The past year, with the COVID Confinement, has allowed time for more reflection and sorting through memory boxes. With the goals of discarding the frames I will never hang or display, of gluing old pictures to decorate completed Grandma Remembers books, or of filling boxes of vintage treasured pictures for children and grandchildren, I have passed the isolation year painlessly, but I have reached my limit. The world awaits further exploration, and I have received my get-out-of-the house pass: both vaccines.
My husband and I welcomed our vaccines and had only minor side effects. After a year of limited living, with each day adding another decimal to my age, I will not wait for the nation to be completely rid of the COVID-19 virus. The vaccines provide 95% coverage, and I will accept that. If I do get Covid, the vaccines should mitigate the symptoms.
While I have friends my age who have had their vaccines and have a different approach to the nearby future, my position is, “Why get the vaccine if you plan to live the same isolated life?” That is especially true for us advanced senior citizens. My list of “ought-to-dos” is too extensive to wait. I am too old to put life on hold. I need to travel forward before time runs out, to meet each day with a curious spirit.
Yes, I will be cautious in crowds of strangers and wear my mask, more for public perception than for my fear, however. When visiting friends, I will ask before going maskless, but family gatherings, coffee with friends, dinner out, even traveling are being booked. The snow runs of Tahoe beckon this month, and May looks good for Florida with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Planning with confidence that the adventures will materialize is a positive approach to old age. Giving up hope of experiencing the joys of life each day creates a pallor of sadness which I refuse to accept yet.
What causes some people to sail through old age with joy while others limp along with sadness? The age number certainly does not define old age except for preconceived ideas of the young, so my “officially old” announcement is more about letting others know I realize my age and limitations and accept it proudly. No matter what statistic appears in your current profile, when you wake every morning with a plan for the day, with projects to cross off, and with a day packed with productive activities, you are dodging the expected tier of old age. Even if the projects are reduced to writing notes, reading, or calling friends, you are goal oriented and connecting in a positive manner.
Some people grow old quicker than others. Although my grandparents always looked old to me, even when they were in their mid-forties, all four grandparents lived to be 89 or 90 years old, so I am counting on ten more years to arrive with a completed bucket list. At least four more out-of-the-country trips are in the master plan as well as readying my book, “The Grandmother I Always Wanted,” to publish.
Mental attitude, being an optimistic person with gratitude for insignificant things, bonded to enthusiasm that pushes you to optimum service promote youthfulness in advanced age, but serious health issues can cause a train wreck even with innate optimism and gratefulness. Too many of my friends are seriously ill which eliminates most of the desirable aspects of enjoying the freedom advanced age permits. Aware that those same problems could sabotage my life at any time, I am declaring that life begins in full force now. My sequestration is over. A year from now, I do not want to regret that I chose to ration my memorable moments.