When I am old(er): A manifesto of sorts.

As one ages, people tend to ask what does 50 feel like, or 40 or 25 or whatever number they can’t quite get their head around. Thing is, we baby boomers seem younger in our aging process that any generation before us.  My grandmother seemed very old at 53…at least older than I am now. But maybe that was just my perception, as someone much younger.

Sometime in the 1990s, I found a book in a Provincetown (MA) bookstore entitled When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple Humm, I thought. Being a 30-something dyke in the 90s, purple was my gang color, the genderbending mid point of pink and blue. Leafing through it, I loved the premise of how aging offered women a chance to shed their inhibitions, stop playing by the rules. By losing value to society, they gained freedom. But had I known that the title poem would spark the Red Hat Society—well, clearly they didn’t get it. I hate the spectacle this group makes of older women. The emphasis on the wrong things, the portrayal of aging women as comical (and color blind) stereotypes. Besides, you don’t need a group to tell you how to celebrate your individuality. Think about it.

As I have written about here before, my love and I are in the process of looking for a home that will suit us as we grow older. One floor, requiring little housework, walking distance to stores and not too much space to stuff things we’ll never use again. We want to be free of all that. But it’s made me think about the fact that old age may be the only stage of my life I get to consciously plan. Childhood is not a choice; adulthood is generally thrust on one after leaving school. And I don’t mean retirement planning. Hopefully there will be a little Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security left for us — we did pay into it all our lives. Plus I’ll have a small pension from my job and someday our investments will start to grow again. Besides, sailboats make my queasy, I don’t ski, I don’t play golf and I never liked sitting on a beach when I was young, so why would I want to do it when I’m older. I’m talking about planning how I will age, what kind of older woman I’ll be. And I think I’ve got the basics covered.

When I am old(er):

I will not ride public transit at rush hour. I have all day.

I will avoid bingos, casinos and Tim Horton’s. They are time and money wasters and I won’t have a lot of either.

I will continue to work for as long as I can, even if it’s just a day or two a week or one project at a time. It will keep my mind active and my pocket a little fuller.

I will have weekends. Real weekends. I will do what chores and errands that need to be done a little at a time during the week. To me, this is the freedom retirement brings. Getting off the clock.

I will go to movies. In the afternoon.

I will not mall walk. They make claws for ice and snow and even if I only get around the block, it will be in the fresh air.

I will not knit, crochet or do crafts. Never liked doing that stuff. I doubt that will change.

I may however, join a church group. I’m not at all religious but they have the best bake sales and I like to show off.

I will not purse my lips so tight they eventually disappear.

Further to that, I will wear lipstick. But not old lady colors.

I will continue to wear jeans. Real jeans. With real pockets and zippers. Not mom-jeans and not that awful dark wanna-be stretchy denim with visible seams. Not denim pant suits. Real jeans.

I will not make fun of fads or fashions I don’t understand, keeping in mind the toe socks and pet rocks of my youth.

I will not go to the bank when it opens or at lunch hour. I will not take a place in line from people who have to rush back to work.

I will not wear floral prints or anything bearing the image of a cat. I will continue to wear my black arty-boho-preppy combinations until they put pennies on my eyes.

I will give away things of value before I leave this world. I won’t need them and the last thing I want my legacy to be is a fight over a teapot or some folding chairs.

I will eat right. I will wear a warm coat. I will get the sleep I need.

I will not bitch about the weather.

I will continue to nurture my sexuality. It’s good for my health and my self-esteem. And if my “little deaths” bring on my big one, think of the laugh riot my memorial service will be.

I will not guilt younger people into visiting me. We all have lives.

I will wear comfortable shoes. But they don’t have to look that way.

I will continue to talk like a sailor. Particularly around those who will be the most scandalized.

I will retain my love of things innovative linear and post-modern and not develop a fondess for doilies or poultry-inspired kitchenware.

I will keep up with the latest technology.

I will care for my love and myself as long as it is reasonable to do so. Then I will cheerfully go to a “home.” I will not allow my aging to impact the lives of others. I will not surrender my independence to anyone.

I will continue to plot, plan, scheme and dream.

I will, in as much as possible, face the end with dignity and courage. Realizing it is those I leave behind who will be saddened. Not me. I’ll be off on an another adventure.

And if at all possible, I will come back to see how things are getting on without me.

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