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Tag Archive: Just You And Me Kid

Sep 02

You will always be you–what I didn’t expect about getting older

“If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
- Mickey Mantle

At a relative’s 90th birthday celebration, one guest asked the honoree, “Say, how does it feel to be 90?”

“I don’t know,” came his quick retort, “I feel about the same way I always have. How old are you, 35? So, how does it feel to be 35?” Then, he winked and smiled.

Ah, what does it feel like indeed, I wondered?

I guess as we age, we expect to feel ‘old’, but what I didn’t expect about getting older is that we don’t really feel that ‘old’ in our heart of hearts. Our bodies may feel weaker, but in our souls, we are still 16 or 25 or 35.

We are the same people we always were.

That surprises me.

I like what 90s journalist and essayist I.F. Stone said that surprised him about aging: “When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you’re older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.”

And so it does.

I was pondering all these thoughts (not too seriously you understand because keep in mind I still feel about 16) when into my email inbox pops my quarterly college alumni newsletter.

There to my delight were short essays from dear old friends giving updates about their lives, stories of family, career and retirement. What caught my eye, however, was a universal underlying theme—aging isn’t exactly what they expected.

I love my friend Connie’s story she titled, “It’s me.”

Connie writes that she is still the same person she always was, something she did not expect at all about getting older.

Here are some excerpts: “Honestly, I expected much of what has happened in the intervening years (since college). Arthritis and gray hair, after all, are part of the old lady uniform. Right? What I didn’t expect was that I would be pretty nearly the same person that I was.”

She reminisces:

“Back in the 60’s when I was a college student, we tended to view older people as significantly different from us. They just didn’t ‘get it.’ We—or, at least, I—thought that people changed as they aged. They do change, but not in all the ways I feared. I’m still Connie.

“Okay. I gained a lot of weight. My hair is white. I have had a knee replacement so I
wobble a little.

“I thought I would be cranky, judgmental, and anything but fun to be around when I got old. Not true! I whine a lot sometimes, but I’m not really cranky. And I’ve never been judgmental, so why would I start now?

“I’m the same inside! This is the big secret! You will always be you.”

However, Connie and I agree that the above ‘secret of aging’ should come with a disclaimer, a warning if you will.

Here it is: yes, it’s true you will always be you, but you will be an ‘old you’ before you know what’s happened!

“When I was young I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my fifties, I was considered eccentric. Here I am doing and saying the same things I did then and now I’m labeled senile. ?~ George Burns (Just You and Me Kid, 1979)