Doing things differently since 1984

I Can’t Wait to Get Old

You’re all going to think that I’m crazy.  But ever since I was a kid, I’ve been looking forward to being an old lady.

It started out when I noticed that elderly women could get away with the coolest things.  They can turn around to the person behind them in line and say something utterly random, like, “Peaches are good for your heart, you know!”  They can bring out a tray of lemonade to the roughest looking group of teenagers.  They get to take their time doing things.  They can mismatch their clothes.  They can sing out loud in crowded public places, just because they want to.  Who is going to stop them?  They get to color outside the lines of unspoken social rules.

As I’ve grown up a bit, I’ve noticed that in so many ways your later years are a multiplication of your earlier ones (with some exceptions, of course).  Did you try to be kind to others when you were younger?  Then you’ll probably be the absolute nicest person in your older years.  Did you complain a lot when you were younger?  Nothing will be likely to cheer you up in your older years.  Optimists usually become super-optimists; pessimists usually become super-pessimists; and everyone generally becomes increasingly convinced of whatever they were fairly certain of before.

I love this; we are destined be accountable for whomever we have chosen to be.  Being in my younger years, this motivates me keep a close eye on the type of person I am becoming!  If I’m going to enjoy being an old lady, I’ve got to be an enjoyable woman.

There’s something blissfully natural about getting older.  Even the richest person can’t stop it – and in fact many end up worse (in my opinion) by trying.  You can only prop up the vitality, outer beauty, and vigor of youth for so long.  Some people dread this; I think it’s wonderful.  We enter the world as equals, diverge so greatly in our middle years, and at the end once again become more like equals.

It seems to me that in our final years our souls are laid bare as never before.  The powerful become frail.  The prideful look to the state of their souls.  The intelligent face questions they can’t answer.  The once-adored receive pity.  We like to construct for ourselves a life that feeds our inflated egos and makes us kings and queens of the Moment.  Then, when the Moment has passed, and our egos have driven away the ones who stay with us in our fragile state, we are forced to reevaluate our lives with a broader perspective.

I am not trying to deny the suffering that comes with old age.  I have the deepest sympathy for those losing the ones they love, and those watching or feeling personally the many tragic conditions that come in a person’s later years.   But I think we can all benefit from looking ahead to what will be coming, and making sure that, when that time comes, though our health may fail us, our souls will be singing from a life well lived.

In closing, I bring to you one of my favorite poems:


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph


12 comments on “I Can’t Wait to Get Old

  1. Randel
    May 24, 2012

    Very interesting post, and fun.

    Do not wish too hard. Time flies and picks up speed as you get older. I am 54 and cannot believe college was over 30 years ago; in a way it still seems just like yesterday. But you are right about how we are all the same in the end–dust.

    For me 50-54 has been chocolate cake icing compared to 40-44, 30-34, and 20-24. But I know a big hammer is coming too. Argh.

    • abtwixt
      May 25, 2012

      Thanks for the comment! I wish mostly that I will spend my youth wisely, and not as many do with a denial that youth will ever end, so as to be able to enjoy the blessings meant to be found in old age. This sort of perspective drives me to be a better person 🙂 Enjoy your chocolate cake icing!

  2. aFrankAngle
    May 24, 2012

    A fun post with a variety of emotions. I’m 5 ahead of Randel. When people ask if I would like to younger, I always respond with “And to be that stupid again? No thanks.” Then again, the way the same golden years turn become tarnished with so many struggles is sad – and that is something I don’t anxious to get. Nonetheless, embrace life for what it is. Good post!

    • abtwixt
      May 25, 2012

      Ha, I did hesitate posting this in conjunction with your admittance as to your recent birthday, but as it turns out it was already mostly written. I am glad you enjoyed its bitter and sweet 🙂 And indeed you’ve got the gist right — embrace life for what it is!

  3. Swirling Turnip
    May 24, 2012

    Thank you for speaking for me! I wouldn’t be sixteen again unless I could take all I learned, my patience and sense of peace with me. I like me as I am now and I wouldn’t trade a single sagging muscle or wrinkle to return to the stress and confusion I battled in my youth. I am presenting who and what I am to the world now, not what I “think” the world needs to see to accept me. I have thirty or so years left to wallow in this peace.

    • abtwixt
      May 25, 2012

      Thank you for your kind comment, and I am glad that you are able to look back and be grateful for where you are in life! I encourage you to enjoy your wrinkles and the peace you’ve worked hard for to get them 🙂

  4. Three Well Beings
    May 25, 2012

    My parents are now experiencing some of the more difficult “declines” in health and vitality, and it’s hard to see. At the same time I am aware that it is time to live life with as much enthusiasm as possible. It’s an odd place to straddle right now. And i love the poem…I haven’t read it in its entirety in years. It comes at a good time. Thank you! Debra

    • abtwixt
      May 29, 2012

      Hi Debra, thank you for sharing your hardship. I am always sad to see anyone suffer, and I’m sorry that you’re having to see that in your parents. I am sure you yourself give them the satisfaction of a life well lived, and I encourage you to draw as much inspiration from them as you can. I am glad the poem helped!

  5. joyannaadams
    June 8, 2012

    Getting old means you have to face the fact that most of your dreams will not come true and your body is too sick to do anything about it.

    BUT…you appreciate the tree, the bird, the dog, the flower, more than you ever thought you would.

    but you are right abtwixt..with age comes boldness. You can wear silly hats, and old sneakers, and not get out of bed if you don’t want to.

    And that’s divine.

    • abtwixt
      June 9, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Joyanna – it seems that when I wrote this post I should have emphasized more the idea that old age is not without its setbacks! It is true that your later years are not as good for dreaming (except of what may be to come after this life, if one has that hope); instead, it is time to sit upon your mound of dreams — fulfilled and unfulfilled, planned for and unplanned for — reflect, and dream. 🙂

  6. dinkerson
    August 3, 2012

    Lol! I love this. I’ve said for some time now, old women behind the wheel are going the kill us all. How can you live to be so old, and presumably wise, yet think that you can just pull out, frontwards or backwards, into the street without looking??? And, of course, the old codgers NEVer show any sign of remorse for me winding up in the ditch.
    I can’t wait ’till I’m old so that I can check the mail in my whity-tighties and slippers. And I so will! 😀

    • abtwixt
      August 6, 2012

      Thanks for the comment — I’ve got family in Florida who complain terribly about the elderly drivers there. I have too many “blonde moments” behind the wheel in my prime years already, so I’m afraid I should warn you ahead of time that I will be the worst of them when I’m older!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: