I almost always cringe when I hear someone who is not elderly, refer to their perceived decrepitude. “I’m soooo old.” “I hate getting old.” I compare it to my own internal tape that told me that I was fat for about 40 years. It was a harmful statement for me to make to myself and reinforces the pervasive negative view of overweight people. There are also pervasive negative views of old people. Our society, by and large, does not treat the most experienced of our citizens very well.

Puppies are cute. They are fuzzy and cuddly but they will also eat your shoe and poop on your favorite throw rug. Young people are also a bit like that. And during spring break, young people are EXACTLY like that.

My parents didn’t really complain about aging in the way a lot of people do.  They were happy and active people. Now they are happy, active, and elderly. In the fall, my mom will turn 80, my dad will turn 82, and the two of them will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving. I know they have to navigate their daily lives differently than in the past and that this adaptation process continues. My parents are traveling to Yellowstone National Park this summer, a place they have gone many times over the years. This is the first time they are staying in a hotel instead of camping. This is a loss but they have found a way to visit and hike in one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth.

My parents have been blessed with good health, this is true. And they do notice the effects of aging; they are not in denial and they have planned their life in a sensible way. But I wonder how different their lives would have been if they had proclaimed themselves old 30 years ago? I wonder what kind of limits they would have placed on themselves? Or how much time they would have wasted feeling badly about themselves instead of walking together every day, going camping several times a year, spending time with friends and family, and looking at the photos they both take of places and people.

Becoming really good at something takes a great deal of time. I am hoping to be around long enough to be an expert on living my life.

Joe and Martha MacKenzie, Thanksgiving 2010

Joe and Martha MacKenzie, Thanksgiving 2010. See, being as old as my parents looks like it could be fun!