Saturday, February 18, 2006

Growing Old Is Not For Wimps.

Growing Old Is Not For Wimps
By Jeanetta B. Pollard

A few years ago our pre-Sunday School class discussion centered around one of our members who had just gotten her Medicare Card. She was crushed. “Reality really sets in now. I have to face the fact that I am 65 – no longer what you’d exactly call a ‘young chick!’” We were quick to remind her of the alternative. We either grow older or we die. She didn’t like the alternative either! Sometimes you just can’t please people.

Teenagers can’t wait until they’re sixteen so they can get their driver’s license. Then they want to be eighteen; then it’s twenty-one. Somewhere along the way, this stops. I have never heard anyone saying, “I can’t wait to be fifty, sixty, seventy, etc.

Someone twenty-five-years-old may be highly insulted if they’re told they look like a fifteen-year-old. Try telling a fifty-five-year-old woman that she looks to be about forty-five. She’ll be your friend forever and never see any of your faults. If anyone ever accuses you of being a liar, she’ll be there to defend your honesty.

I was at the beauty shop one day and saw one of my mother’s old friends.She said, “Jeanetta, you haven’t aged a bit. You still look the same as you always have.”Talk about making your day! I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Jim. Never mind the fact that she’s in her eighties and her eyesight is probably failing. (She doesn’t even wear glasses!) It sounded like beautiful music to my ears anyway.

I don’t know what it is about age that bothers us, but it does. Earlier this year I awoke with my back itching and hurting. We thought it was a spider bite so I went to the doctor. She said it was shingles.Upon returning home from the doctor’s visit, we researched it on the Internet. One of the first things it said was this is usually a disease of the “elderly.” That was a real thrill!! After I got over the initial shock, my husband and I had a good laugh.

I love “spunky” seniors. There are a lot of them out there. Every time I think of the story a friend told me about her mother, I have to laugh. Suzie’s mother lived to be over one hundred. At the age of ninety, she was still driving. One day she was stopped by a cop for going the wrong way on a one way street.After the policeman stopped her, he discovered she also had no driver’s license.(Suzie said she had driven when she was young, but had given up driving after a bad accident. After many years passed and her husband could no longer drive, she just started driving again – without a driver’s license. She refused to go and get one.)The policeman charged her with three counts – driving without a license, driving the wrong way on a one way street and – the third charge was trying to bribe a cop! She had offered the policeman money not to turn her in! Sometime after this, she told Suzie, “I think I’ll just give up driving.” Suzie told her she thought that was a good idea.

Another lady, also in her nineties, was on the Today Show. She was stopped by a policeman because her tag was expired. When he ran her license number through the computer, he discovered an outstanding ticket she had never paid. The policeman handcuffed her and took her to jail. (This was the law in the state she was in.)She gave them her son’s names and phone numbers to call. One son was a doctor and the other was a judge. While the cop was on the phone with her son, she was in the background yelling, “Come get me! They’re going to put me on bread and water.”When Matt Lauer, who was interviewing her, told her he guessed she was sorry she had not paid the ticket, her reply was, “Oh, no, I’m not sorry. I love all the attention I’ve gotten.” I imagine her sons, especially the judge, must have been shuddering at this stage of the game.

She also told Matt that he was a lot nicer than she thought he would be.What is it that Art Linkletter says? - That he loves to interview kids and people over sixty-five. He says that kids don’t know any better than to say whatever pops into their heads and older people don’t care what they say.

It appears that no matter what your age, you don’t seem to ever think you are the one getting old. A doctor friend of ours shared this story with us. He said one of his ninety-year-old patients was in his office. She was trying to get out of the chair.It took her three tries before she made it. Her comment was, “Here I am acting like an old woman who can’t even get out of a chair.”I think it is a “good thing” that people don’t think of themselves as being old. As long as they continue to feel they are young, they will continue to try and do things that will help keep them young. There are many things people can do to keep themselves young. One of the important things you can do is learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is the best medicine for all of us, no matter our age.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine. She told me last week she was packing to go out of town. She had made her list as we all must do at this age. She saw toothpaste and toothbrush on the list. She immediately applied toothpaste to her tooth-brush and started to put it into her suitcase when she remembered what she was about to do – the toothbrush and toothpaste were each to go into the suitcase separately. I then shared a really dumb thing I had recently done. I made some Kool-Aid for Jim. He drank about half of it before telling me it had no sugar. I was sure I had put two one-half cups in it, but maybe I only put one. I went back to the kitchen and added another half cup. This time it was fine. I just thought I had forgotten to add the othe half cup of sugar. Later in the day, I started to wash a pitcher that was sitting on my counter. Just as I put it into the water, I noticed something white in it. There was the other half cup of sugar. The empty pitcher had been sitting next to the container I made the Kool-Aid in. One half went into the Kool-Aid; the other went into the empty pitcher.We both had a very good laugh and then went on about our day, each of us feeling a little better because we had shared our “crazy things.” It also uplifted us (at least it did me) to think: if I am crazy, I’m not by myself. I think that is a comforting thought, but then again, I’m not quite sure!The ONE thing I am sure of is – GROWING OLD IS NOT FOR WIMPS!!

You can read excerts from Jeanetta Pollard's laters book "Stories of Hope" at