One day my nine year old granddaughter  said something like, “When I’m old like you . . .”. Oh dear. She called me the “O” word. Its not as if I think I’m still 15, although inside I still feel like that.  I only have to look in the mirror to see my age.  I can see the wrinkles, the bald spots, and the parts that are sagging.

What bothers me is being tagged with all those negative words: geriatric, geezer, old coot, goldenager, old-timer, oldster, blue-hair, dotard,  elderly, old codger.  Ugh. 

I’ve chosen to call myself a retiree. In my previous adult life I’ve been labeled by whatever type of work I was doing. (That’s how we do it in our culture.) I‘ve been teacher, mother, manager and so on. Since I’m no longer working/employed, I’ll just go by retiree. Hopefully someone will come up with a better label someday.  Baby Boomer is not a bad label but I’m too old  they are younger than me.  There are enough Baby Boomers coming up who will change this as they have so many other things.

I’m going to concentrate on how great it is to be this “retiree”. Don’t pat me on the back and feel sorry for me. Don’t look at me with eyes that say you don’t think I’ll be around much longer. Who know, I may have decades left. I’m looking at life the way I always have: there are so many exciting days ahead! What’s next?

Maya Angelou wrote a poem to celebrate AARP’s (American Association of Retired People) 50th anniversary. It’s called Growing Older By Design. It is what I believe many of us my age are feeling. Here’s part of it:

When you see me walking slowly

And my feet won’t find the stair

I will only ask one favor

Don’t bring me a rocking chair

 

When you see me moving slower

Don’t study and get it wrong

Tired does not mean lazy

And each good bye is not gone

 

And the blood slows

In our veins

Slackened by age

We may stumble

And fumble and fall

We exchanged our place with time

For it races like light

Down a darkened hall

 

Please stop

Do not pity me

Please hold your sympathy

Understanding if you’ve got it

Otherwise I will do without it

 

I am the same person

I was back then

A little less hair

A little less chin

Some less lung

And much less wind

I count myself lucky

I can still breathe in.

Hold, stop.

Don’t pity me. 

If you would like to read the entire poem you can find it at AARP’s excellent website and at the following link http://www.aarp.org/leisure/entertainment/articles/maya_angelou_poem.hml

 

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