The Newcomer

Old age is what?!?

by Frances Potts

Old age is a state of mind?

You've got to be kidding?

Wrinkles-whether of the smiley or scowly variety-aren't just figments of some old gal's imagination. Nor are the gray hairs that fight for space on unsuspecting scalps. Or no hair at all.

Saggy necks, baggy arms and muscles that have gone south are all too real. Never mind the strange aches and pains that come and go.

Old age a state of mind?

Then what makes that afternoon nap so desirable, the stairs so steep, the load too heavy to lift?

And, most important, why isn't there a course in growing old?

It's not a subject that is taught. It has to be learned through osmosis.

Old age gradually creeps up on one. The body starts sending signals never before experienced. When these strange symptoms first appear, one wonders if illness has struck. But, no, one finds out, after conferring with wiser heads, it's just a new friend with an old name.

Personally, I have tried to be a gracious hostess to Old Age.

I have never lied about my age, never subjected my body to any nips and tucks and have colored my hair only once or twice. I have kept a young outlook, although, whereas I felt 21 until I reached my 60s, I now feel 36 at almost 71 . . . until I try to walk more than two miles.

I believe in the adage that one is only as old as one thinks one is. But it doesn't keep arthritis from putting curls in my fingers. And, frankly, I resent these strange twisted gifts Old Age has brought me.

But, even more so, I resent the occasional attitude of young men and women who haven't yet met Old Age and probably have never considered that they, too, have that friend to look forward to knowing.

The attitude I'm speaking of is their ability to, not just look through me as they speak to me, but look past me. They make it obvious that to them I am a nonentity. They dismiss me, my presence, as insignificant. There seems to be no animosity in their attitude; I am just old and unimportant to them in the scheme of things.

When this happens, I feel myself shriveling up. I feel every wrinkle, every traitorous muscle. I forget about my 70 years of experience, my accomplishments, my skills. I begin to feel old.

Old Age has inroduced me to young people who scurry to open heavy doors for me, who call me Ma'm, who warn me to get in out of the heat. These people I do not resent, but I still find it strange to be perceived as so old as to need protection when a good-looking guy can still catch my eye.

Old Age-am I there yet?

I think not. Maybe tomorrow.


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