I notice that I am not judging others as much as I used to-- pastel hair coloring, loud tourists, fancy or scruffy attire. People look and act as they do, and I am one of those people, too. In part this is one of the secret benefits I’m feeling as an old woman. It has freed me to wear my warm hat with ‘Thankful’ on its rim. Certainly not a fashion statement, but I am warm and I am not worrying that people might be thinking, “There goes an old woman.” Who cares.
Are there any old woman secrets about traveling alone to Italy? I feel confident in the same ways I’ve always felt; I am not fearful that something might happen; I can manage my luggage with ease; I am not lonely; I love eating alone. The secret is that I am aware that these solitary trips will come to an end—soon, within the next few years.
We old people know the finality of life in a way that hasn’t always been in our consciousness. For me, it began emerging when I turned 70, and became hardwired by 75. It’s not a depressing thought, but a prominent one. Living in the moment has becomes essential to my well-being.
Here is the old woman secret that appeared to methis morning. I hate all the grumbling I hear from old people, and yet, here I am doing just that. Today’s specific grumble is how we long for ‘the good old days’ by complaining about how things currently are in the world. This one can totally consume us if we let it. And, in case you’re wondering, it is not about good memories. It probably has to do with lack of control in our lives.
We old women still want to be perfect, both in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. From our old age stance, however, we offer the wisdom that no one is perfect, nor can they. It’s not that we’re lying; it’s just that we want what we can’t have. It’s a life long conundrum, starting with wanting cookies for breakfast, to a perfect teenage complexion, to a glamorous job, to compliant children. Then, as we learn that those dreams are unattainable, we soften our expectations, and become satisfied with the nuances of every day life. But we still hold onto that ideal of perfection within us.
Maybe that’s a good thing, not letting go of wanting to be perfect, or shall I say, the best we can be, especially in a old woman kind-of-way.
A secret of many old women, at least this one, is that as kids we were immersed in the Subway Series. What’s that you ask? It was when fans took the New York City subway to the World Series games between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. *
The 1955 season was my season. In no particular order I remember the entire Brooklyn Dodger line up, the arrival of rookie pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the catch of Sandy Amoros, and calling my grandmother in Brooklyn after our Bums won. And then O’Malley moved the team to LA and my ‘wait ‘til next year’ days were over. It took me until 2013 to wave the Red Sox banner.
Being a Brooklyn Dodger fan isn’t one of my secrets, but it sure dates me. Just three weeks ago at the second playoff game against the Yankees at Fenway Park, I comment to some fans sitting near me that I had been a big Brooklyn Dodger fan and gone to Ebbets Field. Wow, did their eye brows raise! We’re they saying, “You are old, but you don’t look it”? I’m going to think that.
* In all fairness, I must mentioned New York Giants as participants in the Subway Series. I remember Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world in 1951. It took four years for redemption.
It’s no secret that as we get older it becomes harder and harder to keep off those extra pounds, and even harder to get rid of them. Way into adulthood I used to cut back (no bread, no sweets, no wine) for two days, and be back to my high school weight. Where has that high metabolism gone?
My old woman’s secret, however, is that I don’t care about those extra pounds, at least not enough to spend more than a day practicing portion control. Oh, I want them off, but just tonight I couldn’t resist a brownie.
In posting about my plans to return to Florence www.acottagebythesea.net/on-my-mind, an old woman's secret revealed itself to me. It has to do with travel, especially solitary travel. Convention says that after a certain age (at about age 70 when most of the secrets appear) one should not travel alone. “What if you get sick, lose your passport, miss your connection….? Ageism creeps in and if were not careful, we old women will join the ism.
Well, I have a couple of secrets about this. First, I have no fear when I travel. Sure, I may get sick or miss a connection, things happened, but I’ll deal. As far as losing my passport, that won’t happen because I keep in zipped in the interior pocket of my ScotteVest, which I wear all the time. And, I never go anywhere near close to where I might get mugged.
The second is more of an old woman secret. Our intuition is trustworthy. We know when it is time to change our mode of travel. In my case it would probably be to stay home. Thankfully, my husband and children trust the secret.
First secret of an old woman: I realize I have no idea how this blog is going to work out. Hmm, I kind of like the idea of an organic, take what you get, come what may, blog. A combination of the random and controlled me.
Two purposes come to mind. Most importantly, I want to bring to consciousness the secret thoughts about aging that are bubbling up in me. So reader beware: what I write on a given day doesn’t mean it’s some big truth; it could just be an opinion of the moment. For all I know, I might change my mind the next day, or I might discard the thought entirely; the idea might disappear, or maybe bubble into an BIG idea. If nothing else, writing, and particularly writing for an audience, helps me figure out what I mean.
Secondly, I offer these sporadic musings on a public forum in the chance they might help others makes sense of their own ideas. I always benefit from reading the thought process of others, so I figure that may be true for others.
Since I’m committed to short posts, I’m going to end this now.
I’m old. Not in the usual physical ways of many people age 78, but I’m old in years, and that very fact guides any sense of meaning that I feel and experience in my life. Put succinctly, my age is the filter through which I lead my life.
Discussions about aging (blogs, books, magazine articles, advertisements, and personal conversations) seem unequivocally prefaced by physical failings, which then unwittingly become the cause and blame for any malaise an older person might have. There is a taboo against confessing our struggle to find meaning in our lives unless we link the cause to a physical problem. The psychological aspects of getting older are overshadowed by the physical.
Those of us older women who don’t relate everything we are feeling or experiencing to physical causes, walk around smiling and pretending to be sixty, the new seventy. We choose to remain silent, to keep secret our deepest wonderings about our purpose as our life diminishes day by day. At least that’s my observation, but how would I know? No one talks about it. I know, however, because I have such secrets, the biggest in the form of a question: What is the purpose in my life?
In this blog I plan to open up some of the secret questions that preoccupy older people, but that they don’t talk about: the young (under 70) don’t ask, we old (over 70), hold back. Why this monotonous dance of reluctance? It’s time for old people to take the lead and reveal their secrets.
I am a 78 year old white, educated, privileged woman, in excellent health, with a wonderful family. I go to church and travel by myself to Italy and Scotland. That’s my public vita, my public persona. But that’s not all who I am. I have secrets, secrets of an old woman. So let me say some more.