Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - September 14, 2018

Celebrating each and every day

In the past few months, our mailbox has been full of envelopes with urgent “please open immediately!” and “please sign now!” messages on them. The sudden interest in my welfare comes from various health-insurance companies pushing for me to buy their plan before I turn 65.

Too late! I passed that milestone.

Since I’m going to continue working at the university, I don’t need to worry about these things now. However, I can’t escape the fact that I am, after all, “elderly” – at least according to some of my students. As internship coordinator for our department, I listen to their presentations about their work experiences. I’m often amused by comments about how their “elderly” - meaning in their 50s or older - bosses or clients don’t keep up with technology or the lingo of younger people - meaning them.

Of course, this is hardly new. Mother-in-law Donna, then in her 90s, laughed when she remembered looking as a kid at her 40-something parents and thinking, “What do they have to live for?”

Older women often have to deal with sexism too. After her mother died, friend Deb and her brother rented trucks to move the belongings they were keeping. The fellow at the rental place wanted to know how much stuff she had, what types of furniture and other things. He finally asked, "Ma'am do you think you can handle a big truck like this? You know this is not like driving your F150. This is a BIG truck!"

She told him it couldn't be as difficult as hauling thousands of pounds of cattle between the ranch and the sale barn while their weight kept shifting and rocking the trailer back and forth.

She later asked her brother, who is four years younger, if he was questioned that way. He said, “No. Not at all.”

Like Deb, I think I do pretty well ... for someone elderly. I don’t remember names like I used to, but that’s because I’ve met so many people in my life that my brain is filling up. Art noticed I’ve picked up a few pounds, but says they have all gone to those places he likes best and so is quite pleased with the changes. I have gray/white hair, but I’ve had that since I was in my 30s. Art has always called me his “silver fox.” I like that.

He also says I’m more interesting now than when he first met me 30 years ago. I’d have to say the same about him, despite having heard his jokes hundreds of times. I don't mind because I don’t remember the punch lines. But that’s not senility - I’ve NEVER been able to remember jokes! I’ll say something like, “Tell the one about the flower.”

Two older couples are out for a walk, the women in front and the men in back. One man says to his friend, “We went to a great restaurant last night.”
“What’s it called?” asked the friend.
“What’s that flower with the thorns on it?” the first answered.
“You mean a rose?” his friend replied.
With that, the first man raised his voice so his wife could hear and said, “Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we ate at last night?”

I heard recently that you know you’re turning 65 when you start ordering drive-up food at a mailbox. I did pull up to a drive-through once and ordered a baked potato with chives. That would have been OK if it had been a Wendy’s, but it was a Burger King. Yet again, this was not senility as it happened when I was pregnant with now 25-year-old Katie!

Art said comedian Billy Crystal had some of the best “getting old” lines he had heard. His favorite was delivered when TV host David Letterman asked how he was getting along.

“I sleep like a baby,” Crystal answered. “I’m up every two hours!”

Susan Wloszczyna, a culture and arts writer, interviewed Crystal for a Sept. 9, 2013 AARP online-magazine article - “No Joke - Billy Crystal Is ‘Still Foolin’ ‘Em,” the latter being the title of his book. Crystal shared some advice from the book:

Sex: If you’re 65, certain conditions need to be just right in order to do the nasty. She can’t be having a hot flash. He can’t have had too much asparagus. And there can’t be a new episode of Homeland on that night.

Sleeping: Every night I go to sleep at 11, then wake up refreshed and ready to go at 1:10 a.m. Hi, I’m Billy, and I’m an insomniac. I’ve been up since 1948.

Decluttering: I can get rid of things that are just objects, that I’m not emotionally attached to ... But the tassel from my high-school graduation cap hangs 10 feet from my work desk.

Celebration time: Too many people try to ignore their birthdays. Why pretend it didn’t happen? Every day I’m here, I’m grateful to be on the other side of the dirt.

When she asked Crystal if he had tips to share, he said he’s been lucky to share his life with someone he loves - his wife Janice. He also said he tries to eliminate stress as much as he can and he does workouts “to stay fluid - you don’t want to let stuff tighten up ...”

Crystal said the best advice he received about enjoying his “golden years” was when he asked George Burns, who lived to be 100, his secret. Burns told him, “Get out of bed.”

Of course, we never know how much time we’re given, but I think just getting out of bed every morning, being with people we love, and staying “fluid” are good ways of celebrating each and every day.

And there is also the reassuring thought that when you get old enough, everything has a lifetime guarantee!

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Other columns from 2018 may be found at: 2018 Index.
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