Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Tropes of Old Age

I have no time for all the tired old sayings, some offered by those far, far younger with cheerful grins plastered on unlined faces, as if they know a thing about it:

"You're 75 years young today!"

No I'm not. I'm 75 and my body knows every inch of it. And I love the word "old". Yes, I do. I french kiss it to the ground most days. Because I've made it to "old". I claim and embrace my status. Old. That's me. Old.

"You're only as young as you feel!"

Well, my body feels punk some days, my "feelings" have nothing to do with it. I consider it a major achievement to climb out of my bed after a night of severe leg cramps and an unremitting bladder. I truly "feel" that applause would be mighty encouraging to help me to continue with my slow day.

"She died after losing her battle with cancer."

That's the heartbreaking one. The obits love the word battle. As if she just wasn't strong/courageous/armed enough to battle properly like a good wee soldier. And win. We all lose. Death claims us all eventually. Why not succumb when things get too rough? Die with dignity at a party of your own making, saying farewell, posting one last blog entry like some blogmates have done? This battling thing (while severely ill) has got to go. A terrible image.

"Old age ain't no place for sissies."

Well, it is. Old age is for everybody if we are lucky enough to live that long. Sissy or not. Wimp or not. Old age is not a monolith. Some are sissies at sixty. Some are brave wee mountain climbers at 90. I can't emulate you, you can't emulate me. Our journeys and personalities are completely different. I can climb on stage and bring the house down while you would run hobble for the hills at the terrorizing thought of it.

There is no handbook. We do the best we can. I embrace it, others Botox their way through, giggling they don't look/feel/behave their age. Whatever rings your chimes, whatever floats your boat.

I can be a sissy now and again. Like most of us. Throw a midnight blocked toilet at me and watch me mewl like a baby. A flat tire? Where's my minder? An unusual lump? Ring the undertaker. Stat.

We are complex in our old age. And that's the fun of it. Fears, laughter, groaning sessions with our contemporaries, bright smiles in place for the young 'uns, saying yes to new opportunities, that's the one piece of advice I'd pass on.

Say yes. If you can. And you're not having a sissy day.

And please don't trope yourself.




24 comments:

  1. It's difficult to imagine, when you're feeling fine, what it's like to feel shitty. I've just been through two days of flu and now that it's over, I'm relieved but also can't recall exactly why I felt so miserable, even though I remember retching and weeping and wondering if it would ever end.

    So it makes sense to me that those who aren't feeling the drawbacks of older age don't believe it will ever happen to them, or that it has to happen to anyone else. When we get there ourselves, it may come as a surprise.

    I'm glad you (and my dad, age 80 and in excellent health, whom I called this morning) don't pretend it's all a sweet deal. We aren't all going to live through it with a stiff upper lip all the time, either. Nor should we. Better to be honest.

    Reminds me a little of not misleading pregnant women that childbirth is a beautiful thing. It sure as hell isn't, and I tell them straight what it was like for me. Had I had a more realistic idea what was coming, maybe I wouldn't have panicked when the serious pain began, which only made it more horrible.

    I hope you'll start feeling better. xoxox Kate

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    1. Thanks Kate, I know you have the advantage of being younger but you do understand. Exhaustion seems to catch me unawares much of the time even though I plan my days pretty carefully. I wind up with a mental "Do I have to?" when all I want to do is fold in on myself for a while.

      And I agree on childbirth, I was never prepared for the horror and I was young with only my husband in a foreign land. I've never forgotten it.

      XO
      WWW

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  2. I have already shared so much. So bad at the moment I think quit sharing. Fine until 80, lucky me but can't say it anymore. Now
    on a good and bad battle, but now believe normal at my in 6 weeks
    turning 85. Lucky me or unlucky me I do not know, a good day and today a bad day, you just keep moving, be honest, try or its over.

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    1. I thought I'd right about the old tropes that are thrown at us E which truly irritate me. Young as I feel my arse kinda thing.

      XO
      WWW

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  3. More old age troping (in fun):
    "Dictionary for the Disenchanted", under the term "Oldsters" offers this:
    1. An antedeluvian subspecies of impoverished supernumeries.
    2. A golden-aged but gruesome Fifth Estate.
    3. The nouveau pauvres :)

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    1. # 1 is my particular favourite considering all that is happening to seniors around me. Thanks for the tropes nouveaus.:D
      XO
      WWW

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  4. In spite of it all, you have made it to 75. How many people can say that? Just goes to show that you don't have to be in perfect health to make it to 75.

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    1. Actually I'm 76 Gigi, just using an example above. And it was basically about the unhelpful statements thrown our way.

      Why can't we just "feel 75"? Forever young is a lie.

      XO
      WWW

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  5. YES.
    Some days every hour is an achievement, never mind the years.

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    1. OMG EC you said that so well. An hour at a time seems a hurdle to me on some days :

      XO
      WWW

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  6. "She is the best she could!" I turn my back and walk away. That sentence does not acknowledge the insuperable odds we faced in these many years we have spent achieving 75 years or more, and does not thank us for taking up the effing battle in the first place.

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    1. So very true Joanne, my daughter does see the battles and the inspiration I have given her but on the whole it's like our achievements are swept under the rugs and the perception is old and useless somehow or "why can't she do more, maybe if she made the effort?"

      Rolling out of bed is an effort some days. A monumental achievement.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. I love the thought of getting old. Or probably by now I should say Older, since I'm already considered old by some people. I've earned the right to own my wrinkles, my grey hair, my lazy do nothing days, my hop on a bus and go anywhere I want days. And if I want breakfast food for dinner, I can do that too.

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  8. Luckily, I live in India where by and large old age is still considered to be a blessing as the younger shower respect and love on the aged. Trope? I celebrate my 76 year old existence. I have my physical problems but, they don't come in the way of my enjoying my age.

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  9. Reinvent the trope, there's a thought. Celebration, no matter the conditions of these tired old packages we hobble around in. Our minds sparkle inside us.

    XO
    WWW

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  10. Perhaps the person who died would not have used that word. Other deathly distortions include obituaries full of professions of "sadly missed" by "loving family" who relied on Hallmark togetherness or had been happily estranged from their much loved relative for decades. These tropes are now engraved on Google and can never be erased. Fascinating theses for future scholors.

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    1. I agree. Hallmark has destroyed all honest emotion. I groan when I see a known paedo and molester "inconsolably grieved". By whom I wonder.

      XO
      WWW

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  11. You are right. All of them annoy me, but especially battling cancer or 'after a long battle with cancer'. She/he fought hard against the disease. I think what really happens is that you live your life as best you can while receiving treatment or in some cases not. Not a quote I knew from Bette, thanks.

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    1. Exactly Andrew and there is nothing wrong with whimpering either. Dogs teach us a lot of lessons.

      XO
      WWW

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  12. I've always hated the x years young thing. How insulting. And as you can imagine, "She died after losing her battle with cancer." makes me crazy. It's not a fucking fight and you don't lose because you aren't fighting hard enough. It's a potentially fatal disease, period. Grrr.

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    1. Exactly SAW. And not this alternative reality where we feel compelled to live up to some crazy ideal of youthfulness, never allowed to age. I despise Frankie and Grace or whatever that show is, for those reasons.

      XO
      WWW

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  13. I'm with you, I love having made it to "old" and am proud to say I'm old. There's a down side to being young and there's a down side to being old, but I'd much rather be old than dead.

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  14. Old is just a state of mind. Being in my mid 70's only slows me down doing the hard heavy lifting. That and working in 108 or above weather for long periods. But I Just keep on truckin.

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