A while back I attended a day’s worth of presentations from local agencies on services for senior citizens. I heard from physical therapists, hospice workers, and in-home health care providers. I wandered around picking up freebies from the booths—things like plastic reading glasses and refrigerator magnets advertising podiatry. Good times.
The workshop was called “Optimal Aging,” but the first speaker explained that a few attendees had obviously misunderstood the content, because they told her they were looking forward to hearing her tips for “optional aging.”
Optional aging. If only it worked that way. But even though we change on the outside, we often remain much the same inside.
My mother railed against the inevitability of aging and death. Toward the end of her life, her body failing, she’d tap one long, index fingernail—painted fire-engine red—to each side of her head and say, “I still feel 29 between my ears.”
Age is just a number, as the saying goes. But for baby boomers like me, that number is getting a tad high for our liking. Nonetheless, we insist on staying this side of the hill, investing in anti-aging creams and trendy hearing aids in neon colors. Our theme song could be “No Time at All” from the 1972 Broadway musical Pippin. The character of Berthe, a 66-year-old grandmother, sings, “I believe if I refuse to grow old, I can stay young till I die.”
A similar sentiment is attributed to anthropologist Ashley Montagu: “The idea is to die young, as late as possible.” I bought my husband a license plate frame bearing that quotation a couple of Christmases ago.
Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” never fails to touch me, especially when sung by Joan Baez. Here she is, young and beautiful. Today, at 74, she remains beautiful, still singing, still true to her beliefs and her cause. An inspiration.
Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
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