You can’t really describe it.
Sometimes it is quite interesting.
It is exciting in many ways.
I have been a child, an adolescent and a middle-aged lady, and I retired many years ago. So what? Each reader of this blog has been a child and is now at some older age. Growing old and real old age are something quite different.
I remember an old joke about a poor boy who told someone that he liked salmon chowder:
– Salmon chowder is really good.
– Have you eaten it?
– No, but I saw a guy in the market who was eating it.
I think this joke could also be applied to the process of growing old.
– It is terrible to be old.
– Have you been old?
– No, but I saw an old person in a really poor condition.
There are many benefits to retirement that I could not have even dreamed of when I was younger. I can take a train at half price and get discounts to many places. Someone (usually) gives me their seat in the bus – and if I thank them, I get a lovely smile in return.
I don’t care to hear about the benefits of healthy meals any more, or the need for extra vitamins, or the dangers of excessive salt intake. I prefer to listen to those wise people who say that when you are over seventy, you can eat anything you like. You cannot say that to a growing youth. So that means old age is also a privilege!
Old age is naturally more than just privileges. I could hide behind my age, but I am afraid my memory or evaluative ability might fail me. People sometimes say – probably to humor me – that they cannot believe I am 80 years old, being so smart and whatever. I would like to tell those people about the things I am not smart in and for which I need help and advice (but tactfully, please!). If you need some skill growing old, you need even more skill communicating with old people.
It is good I don’t need to keep updated about things, but I do get positive feedback for showing myself knowledgeable about some topical events. That used to be different: I was embarrassed if I did not know or understand something, or at least I tried cover up my ignorance.
I presume there is no reason for me to be ashamed if I mix up two years like 1986 and 1968. From the viewpoint of the universe, it is a very minor failure (though I fully understand it is not a minor failure for someone born in 1986). I also mix up things that I should be ashamed about.
I remember situations where people have made fun about things said by an old person. I may have been involved in that kind of joking myself. I feel ashamed. Does that mean people are now laughing at my words in the same way? There would surely be cause for that.
Our bodies are growing old. When I paid for my lunch in a restaurant, the cashier gave me senior discount without my asking for it. When I asked her how she knew I was retired, she burst out laughing and almost could not stop.
Another time my husband and I had a 11-year-old girl in the ride.
She asked us where we would go after we had dropped her off at her school.
– To the gym.
We heard a lovely giggle:
– Eighty-year-olds in the gym.
It was our turn to laugh. Was she thinking about us doing cartwheels and pirouettes?
It is hard to recognize change in myself, though there are signs about it all over the place. My senses are getting less keen. My near vision began to deteriorate when I was only forty, I lost my sense of smell when I fell on icy ground, and I seem to have inherited impaired hearing from my ancestors. I thought a hearing aid would help, but it only makes the background noise louder. I can discern some frequencies quite clearly, but others get muddled or squeaky. My brain tries to help, but the outcome is an extraordinary jumble of things dredged up by my subconscious. To be on the safe side, I prefer to keep quiet.
I also keep quiet when my inability to recognize faces (pro¬so¬pag¬no¬sia) gets the better of me. Pro¬so¬pag-no¬sia is a common condition that often worsens with age and causes a lot of embarrassment: I recognize people poorly or not at all based on what they look like.
This is a real problem in big services. If the other person does not suffer from the same problem, they may feel offended and make wrong assumptions. But if I have the courage to ask who the person is, and if he or she answers my question and does not make me guess, we usually end up having a good time together.
Memories are a marvelous treasure for an elderly person. Based on my long personal history, I can make connections between things that I previously could not. I feel that I really have something to offer to younger people, and many are happy about that.
When I had a memory test made for the first time, the questions seemed stupid: What year / month / day of the week do we have now? In which town / country are we now? But I understand now that such questions are essential indicators of a person’s memory.
No matter how positive I try to feel about myself, my darker side sometimes takes over and brings up some scary prospects: what if I will end up having a memory disorder and become a stubborn burden to my family and society, and no-one has the patience to deal with this prickly bundle of complexes.
At those moments my lighter side reminds me about the comforting prospect of faith: the number of days of my life have already been counted. There are neither too many, nor too few, and each of them has a purpose – for me or for my dear ones.
Text: Kirsti Wallenius-Riihimäki
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original blog post here.
Suomessa on eletty pitkään rauhan aikaa. Tämä ei ole itsestään selvä asia. On kysymys Jumalan lahjasta. Maamme rauhaa ja itsenäisyyttä on aika ajoin myös häiritty ja uhattu. Historian eri vaiheissa kansamme on joutunut puolustamaan omaa olemassaoloaan myös ase kädessä.
Koko perheen joululevy sisältää jouluisia Siionin lauluja. Niiden sanoista kuulijalle välittyvät sekä hiljentyminen seimen äärelle että ilo ja ihmetys seimen lapsen syntymästä.
Kirjoittajat eri puolilta maailmaa kertovat siitä, kuinka Jumala on johdattanut heidät valtakuntaansa. Kertomuksia yhdistää kokemus kotiinpaluusta, Raamatun mukaisen uskon löytymisestä ja uskovaisten välisestä rakkaudesta.
Kuuden edesmenneen puhujan elämänvaiheet piirtävät kuvaa uskosta ja elämästä menneinä vuosikymmeninä. Heidän kokemuksensa myös syventävät kristillisyyttä koetelleiden hajaannusten historiaa.
Eeva Kontiokarin runoissa tarkastellaan ikääntymistä lempeällä huumorilla ja elämänkokemuksen tuomalla viisaudella.