by Pettus Read
Lately, I have been experiencing ups and down in my realization of my age process. The fact that comments about my age from people I meet on the street and I don't even know, have really given my personal self esteem a real roller-coaster ride over the last few weeks.
A few Sundays ago, I had just had a pleasant ride with my wife and her mother to the country to take a look at the old homeplace. My mother-in-law has reached that golden age of not needing a farm to look after and now lives in an assisted-living facility and recently sold her farm. Those are very tough decisions to make, but if we all live long enough, the time will come to each of us. After returning to her new residence, I let her and my wife out at the front door and parked our car. To save myself a few steps, I entered the facility through a side door that happened to be located near a sunny porch.
Sitting on the porch was an elderly little lady in a wheelchair enjoying the Sunday afternoon sun. As I opened the door to go inside she asked me a question that stopped me cold in my tracks. In her sweet little voice she asked, "Are you one of the new residents here?"
Of course I answered her in the negative and went on my way, but the shock of being asked if I belonged in an assisted-living facility really got my attention. Did I look that old? I know my hair is starting to turn loose, but is it also turning rest home gray?
I call myself mature, but after that lady's comment I may be maturing much faster than I thought. Of course my wife thought it was funny when I told her, but to me I saw nothing to laugh about.
The only time in our lives when we like to get older is when we are children. In fact, as children we count years by halves and as adults we don't even like to count them at all. I have heard lots of children say they are five and a half or ten and a half, but you will never hear an adult say they are forty-one and a half or sixty and a half.
Most want to be twenty-one forever unless they have reached the age of 100. When you reach that milestone you start counting by halves again and some even count by even smaller fractions. Of course most folks who reach 100 won't even buy green bananas at that age because it's an investment rather than a purchase and maybe a bad one.
When we talk about our age we use terms that make it sound better as we mature. I heard someone recently say in the early stages of our life we "become" 21. The word "become" makes it sound more like a ceremony rather than the fact you have reached the age of accountability. Then you "turn" 30 which sounds more like what bad milk does and from then on you are "pushing" or "reaching" the next series of age levels.
For example you "reach" 50, which sounds like something you would do on a hike. "Reaching" 50 IS quite a hike, but "pushing" 60 is even more of a stretch on the "old age" trail.
After the 50s and 60s you start hearing the word "hit", which I feel is not a good term to use at those ages. When I get to 70 or 80 I don't really want to hit anything of great importance other than a featherbed.
I have also heard those who have "hit" the 80s and 90s mark use the word "just" very often when they speak of others who may have passed on. The way I see it, when you reach that age level you should be allowed to use whatever word you want to. If he was "just" 94 when he left this world while roller blading, that is fine with me.
After the lady's comments at the assisted-living center, I stopped at a local restaurant for dinner. When the waitress brought us our bill she had given me the special senior citizen discount on my order.
I have a lot of pride, but I am also very conservative, (my wife defines it as just plain cheap) and I did not want to hurt the young ladies' feelings by letting her know that she had indicated that I looked old. Instead, I let the matter drop and just gave her a good tip.
I reasoned that something good needed to come out of this day and if looking old meant a discount, then so be it. I am "just" 54 and a half you know.