My body is no longer tight and muscular, but I don’t look like a Shar-Pei. Yes, I qualify for AARP and all those senior discounts, and No, I do not get asked for proof of age anymore.
What age is considered “old” nowadays, scientifically or socially?
My six siblings and I were blessed as children to have our maternal Grandmother live with us; from my very first memory, she was old. I was about 3 then; she was about 60.
Born and raised in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, my Grandma chewed snuff (Copenhagen) and wore her very long, very gray hair braided and wrapped around her head. As a tween and teenager, having spittoons around the house and Grandma admonishing us “young-uns” to mind our manners … well, in many ways, the old woman embarrassed me.
She also had a heart of gold, the patience of Job, and she taught me to saucer coffee. *see description below She left school in the fifth grade to go to work in the mill. She had no interest in learning to drive a car, rarely used a telephone, admonished us that television was evil, that women should never talk politics, and instilled in me the value of hand-written letters and thank you notes.
Grandma accepted her role as elderly. She didn’t expect to be productive, took pleasure in simple things (like tatting and embroidery), and appeared to proudly self-identify as our Grandma, a helper for my Mom. Her life was relatively simple…she accepted that reality with age.
Fast forward one generation, to my parents. Until my youngest sister started school, ours was a stay at home Mom. Using public transportation, she then secured employment outside our home (much to the dismay of our Dad). Ten years later, she secured her very first driver’s license, the same year her youngest daughter began driving!
As it turned out, Mom was a brilliant business woman; she flourished in the business world, as a general contractor overseeing renovation of brownstones in downtown Chicago. Mom continued working well into her sixties, expertly negotiating sub-contractors, dealing with building inspections, and skillfully navigating the Dan Ryan Expressway, morning and evening. Mom retired the same year as Dad, and they moved to Arizona where she volunteered as a SCORE mentor, providing…