Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is again a question with multiple sub-questions:
How old are you* and how old do you feel — older or younger than your actual chronological age? Do you generally act your age? And what does “acting your age” mean to you?
*If you’re uncomfortable revealing your actual age, maybe you can just say something like, “I’m in my twenties.” Or fifties. Or “I’m a senior citizen.”
I don’t mind revealing my age – I will turn 68 next week. I have never felt my age until recently, and until recently, people would guess me to be younger than I am. I let my co-workers (in teaching, all were younger than me) think I was younger. That’s why it’s strange in a way to be living in a senior retirement community. We moved here primarily because of my husband, who is eight years older than I am. He was sick of maintaining a house, especially one that was close to 100 years old – something was always needing to be fixed or renovated. For me, it was the stairs – I have bad knees and it had become increasingly difficult to live in a 2-story + basement house. The washer & dryer were in the basement, but I spent a lot of time in my “office” on the 2nd floor. If it had been up to me, I would have chosen to move into a condo somewhere near where we used to live.
I say I never felt my age until recently because my body has been reminding me of my age. I have a heart monitor for my congestive heart condition and, as I said, bad knees. I have fallen quite often and my knees have gotten arthritic. I still try to keep active, because I know that if I don’t, my body will deteriorate faster now than when I was younger. The other day, Dale cleaned up our bikes and pumped air into the tires. Then he wanted to go for a spin around the campus. Just trying to get my leg over the middle bar was difficult! (I don’t have the classic “girls’ bike” – the bar is not as high as on a men’s bike; it’s halfway in between.) I still make an effort to walk every day and if possible, two or more miles.
These days I have to watch my salt and fat content. If I don’t, my body reminds me of it! I can no longer drink coffee and I only very rarely eat fast food.
Acting my age is something I have never done! Remember that stupid teasing phrase, “Act your age, not your IQ”? When I was young enough to say that or be teased with it, I probably did act my age! But now… what does it mean to be 68? How much longer have I got? I don’t think about it much. But it’s true that “70 is the new 50.” People live longer these days and becoming a senior citizen and retiring doesn’t mean your life is over. Retirement for me created opportunities – to attend multiple book groups at the library, attend classes in writing, art, and international/political affairs, travel at any time of the year.
I don’t have to get up early most of the time. As a retiree, I have filled my days with activities and pleasurable pursuits. (I now understand why retired people tend to be busier than working people!) I love to travel more than anything else, but I’m not ready to take cruises all the time where I never have to get exercise or even get off the ship. I prefer tours that require tramping around cities or nature areas.
I still like the things I liked when I was 30 or 40. My husband and I both like to act silly sometimes – well, more than sometimes – A LOT. The good thing about living in a senior community is meeting people older than me that still live active lives. When I talk to people here, I forget about their age. (Everyone here considers me a “youngster!”) They like the same things, do the same sorts of things, enjoy life the same way I do. Many of them get excited about hearing Beatles songs! So what exactly is “acting my age?” I have no idea – I just act the way I have been. I don’t think about death being any more imminent than it was before.
However, there are some things that I feel an urgency to do now that I’m getting older. Keeping records of our investments, writing down for our kids the wishes we have regarding our death, and finishing long term “legacy” projects – all these are important to do as soon as possible, but being the procrastinator that I am, they are far from being completed. We do have a will or should I say, a trust, that has been drawn up and is kept in a place that’s easy to find. But I guess that’s what it means not to act my age – to take for granted that I have plenty of time to do all the things that I believe must be done.