|A flower shop display yesterday|
The walk with the ladies (plus one man, a husband) was very pleasant, too, with the sun actually shining for a change. It's always nice when my regularly scheduled outdoor activity is in the sun, or at least not in pouring-down rain. I recently learned that every day in December so far has had some measurable rain. Not surprising, plus the snow that was absent this year is piling up in the mountains, where it belongs. When it rains here, it's usually snowing a few thousand feet up in altitude. I much prefer dealing with rain rather than slippery walking conditions. I'm just not as steady on my feet as I used to be. Perhaps my new gentle yoga class will help with that; I start it in two weeks. In my quest to find a yoga class, I have reluctantly realized that I cannot tie myself in pretzels any more. My knees and back need a more gentle approach.
Yesterday after the walk while drinking coffee with the ladies, we were discussing our concerns about aging. Although many of the women are retired, there is no age limit (in either direction) for the walking group. All you really need is a willingness to meet at 8:00am on a Saturday and walk at a brisk pace with the others. One of the really nice things about keeping a blog is being able to look back and see how long it's been since I started walking with them. I wrote a post about the group on January 1, 2010, my first time. On the first day of the year, Cindy schedules a walk to start an hour later and always holds it at Lake Padden, one of our usual meeting places. After one time around, we share coffee and goodies with each other. This New Year's Day will mark six years since I started walking with them. At first I skipped the times when it was raining, but gradually I began coming every single Saturday, no matter what the weather.
As we sipped our coffee after the walk, we talked about the term "elderly." Who is elderly, really? Is it a set number, and if so, what is it? Or is it a state of mind? We laughingly decided that the term should only apply to those in their nineties. Upon checking the internet, however, I found that there is no set number that defines elderly, and the older one is, the later one thinks it should be. I found an interesting article on NPR that discusses the dilemma. Apparently at one time the New York Times referred to a 69-year-old woman as elderly in a story and readers complained. From that article by Linton Weeks:
"Nobody likes to think of themselves as old, let alone very old," says Michael Vuolo, co-host of Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast. " 'Elderly' often carries the connotation of feeble and dependent. Which is offensive if you're not and condescendingly euphemistic if you are."Most developed countries define elderly as "being past middle age," around 65. That's also when the last of the senior citizen discounts usually kick in, too. I am able to buy a bus pass for three months here in Bellingham at half price since I'm older than 65. Once I reach 75, I won't have to pay for a bus pass at all, as I'll receive a Gold Pass and can ride unlimited for free. That's because I will definitely be well entrenched in old age by then and, as I've mentioned here before, I'm aware that my reaction times and many other marks of aging are definitely present. Wikipedia, as usual, has a very good page about it; I like the part about old age being defined as "nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle."
Sometimes I'm just fine with being old, and other times I simply forget. I've got a couple of friends in their fifties, and I think of myself as their contemporary, and suddenly I'll remember that I could be their mother and am in another age bracket entirely. Oh. Yeah. That's right; I've got every right to my aches and pains, as I'm nearing the end of the human life cycle. I've been a babe, both a little tyke and a gorgeous young woman, a mother, and although I have no grandchildren, I am a great-aunt to many. I had a great career and retired from it eight years ago now. I've managed to stay active and eat right (most of the time) and keep my weight under control.
So I'll go ahead and consider that being elderly is still ahead of me, in the future somewhere. But not that far ahead. Every birthday reminds me that life is finite, it's the way it works. And partly because of this blog, I get to see myself on the arc of aging. I've discussed all this before, but it is often on my mind these days as I wrestle with balance problems and with my back and knees going out on me now and then. When I remember that this is perfectly normal for someone my age, I cut myself some slack and relax about it. Plus I get to talk to you, my dear readers, about it and will have the chance to hear your comments. I look forward to that more than I would ever have thought. Blogging gives me the chance to remain mentally active, another great benefit of sitting here each Sunday morning, pecking away at the keyboard and arranging my thoughts.
I can hear rain pounding on the roof again. But I can be thankful that yesterday was simply lovely, and the sun will return again. Some day. For your amusement, here's our weather forecast:
|From Weather Underground|