DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
May 11 2012

How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Grays

by Veronica W

"I'm going to need a hug, Maurice--it's from the A.A.R.P."

I remember it so well. We were “out on the town,” enjoying dinner and a movie. We had just left a restaurant and were standing in line to get our tickets for the movie Taken. When our turn came, my husband stepped up and said “Two seniors for Taken.” The  lovely young cashier looked at me and said  “Two? Really?”  Bless her heart. I smiled at her, while thinking “Senior? Me? Am I really there already?”

What we truly are often differs from how we see ourselves—just ask the author of  How Did I Get to Be 70 When I’m 35 Inside. Inside I am a great singer and when I hear music, songs just well up and burst forth. Unfortunately what comes out is not as wonderful as what I hear in my own head. Not only am I a great singer, but I am lots of great things—and I am forever 30.

There are two schools of thought about becoming a senior. (By the way, when is that exactly? I’ve heard 50, 55, 60, and 65.) The School of Blatant Denial says I don’t look it, I don’t act it and I have all my original teeth. These are the folk whose grandchildren call them clever names that give nothing away. MeeMaw? However people enrolled in The School of Hurray for Senior Discounts can’t wait to get their A.A.R.P. cards and they proudly wear t-shirts proclaiming “50 and loving it!”

Whatever school you attend, everyone reaches a decade marker at some point;  it could be 20, 30, 40 and beyond. Editor Ronnie Sellers has written a book for those who reach the 50s marker and are not sure what to do now that they’re there. The title is 50 Things to Do When You Turn 50.  Judith Viorst wants to know How Did I Get to be Forty…And Other Atrocities. Perhaps it’s turning 30 that has you depressed. (20 is no problem because I have yet to find one 19-year-old who doesn’t want to turn 21.)  For you, there is Ready or Not, Here Life Comes or Time Happens.

Did you meet your most recent decade  by dancing ’til dawn with friends or cowering under the covers, moaning? (The ladies don’t have to tell which birthday if,  like Mae West, they believe “A woman who will tell her age will tell anything.”)  Perhaps, like 101-year-old Virgil Coffman, you decided you only go around once and bought the one thing of which you’ve always dreamed.  Mr. Coffman purchased a bright, “screaming yellow”  Transformers’ special edition 426 hp Camaro. He said, “Once in a while I like to kick it up.”

I know the feeling.  Just about the time I turned 40, my son moved to NY and I appropriated his 5.0 Mustang GT. It was maroon, shiny and very fast, with a spoiler, oversized tires, a black stripe and a varoooom that told everyone I was coming. Bonus—it was a standard!  As I raced teenagers and Andretti wannabes up and down 285, it didn’t matter that I had reached middle age or that my knee ached a bit when I had to work the clutch. Life was good and 40 was just a number.

May is Older Americans Month and the library has a wealth of entertaining and informational activities going on. If the story of Mr. Coffman has struck a cord in you, you also may want to visit a car dealership to see what catches your fancy. Whatever decade you’ve reached, however, it’s worth a celebration.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leigh P. May 11, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I always thought I wouldn’t mind aging; after all, it’s pretty amazing I’ve kept myself alive for as long as I have. But I recently decided to cut and stop dyeing my hair and – oh-what-timing – I’ve been plucking gray hairs all week. They literally *do* come up overnight. How is that physically possible? So, I’ve been dealing a lot mentally and emotionally with aging and my only saving grace (I know this won’t boost the spirits of many) is that I have more ahead of me than I have behind. I must keep telling myself that.

Nonetheless, I do look forward with alacrity to being the little old woman in the cardigan, sipping tea, book in hand. That is the picture of tranquility and peace and also the sign of a life well-lived – the goal I think we all want in life.

Greg H. May 11, 2012 at 1:16 PM

I’ve noticed a lot of cars like Mr. Coffman’s on the roads and the ones I like the best are the one whose colors most resemble the flourescent greens and purples of my first Hot Wheels cars. (And I mean these were among the first EVER Hot Wheels cars!) So if I someday plunk down the bucks to buy one of these it’ll be as much about the kid I used to be as the senior I will have become.

Nancy M May 14, 2012 at 7:57 PM

I’m a gray hair plucker, too! But as of very recently I’m seeing that it’s a losing battle. Aging has always been a very sensitive subject- I cried when I turned 13 because I thought it meant the end of my childhood and every milestone since then has brought on the tears. But with the recent birth of my son I’ve realized that these days are the best of my life and there are many, many more to come so I need to stop dwelling on the days that are gone. Although I don’t think I can stop stressing about my poor hair.

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