My eight-year-old grandson and I were walking my dog when Braiden said quite earnestly, “I’m watching out for you G-ma.” (Grandma or grandmother sounds way too old, so we went with “G-ma.”)
“Really?’ I replied.
“Yes, now that you’ve gotten so old…” Guffaws from me. Didn’t he know I was G-ma because I’m not that old? “…it’ll be good to have a Cub Scout watching out for you,” he continued. I just chuckled.
Actually, it sort of sneaks up, doesn’t it? For me it began when I was in my early 30s and on a search committee for a new priest at Christ Episcopal. The lady leading the committee, who has long since moved away and whose name I have long since forgotten, opened the meeting by saying, “I suppose you noticed there are no young people on this committee?” I mean, what was I? Chopped liver? Yet, I just sat in stunned silence, voicing no objection.
Then my eyesight, which has actually been terrible all my life, began to get worse. When I went to see my dear friend Dr. Ebihara he peered into my orb and asked, “Just how old are you getting to be?” I naively assumed that he was referring to the fact that I was 16 when he first came to town and that he wanted to talk over old Oberlin history type stuff. Nope. “You see, when you get to be your age, the focuser begins to go,” he stated and I sunk low into the exam chair. Now he was telling me I was getting old!
When I first began my teaching career, I fell out of college and taught seniors, making me only a few years older than they were. I was the cool young teacher. I continued to teach high school and always told my students that I was younger than most people my age because I spent my life with teenagers.
I still think that’s true, but I guess I convinced myself too strongly because it wasn’t until my last year of teaching when I was 57 that I came to a harsh realization. I was standing outside of my room at the end of the hallway to greet students as I often did. Standing with me was Josie, the teacher across the hall. More and more students gravitated to her as if I was invisible and it was then and only then that I realized I was no longer the cool young teacher! Good thing retirement loomed!
Aches creep up much more often and last longer. Mary Ann and I started out over 50 years ago talking about comic books, then the Beatles, then boys, then husbands, then our children and now we talk about doctor visits and physical pains we are experiencing. It was just the other day that we were doing fancy tricks to leap into our backyard pool and now we clutch the railing when getting in and out at Splash Zone.
The other day in church we were to take a picture after the service to celebrate the 200th year of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. When making the announcement that folks needed to stay after for the photo op, Fr. Brian’s gaze drifted in my direction when he said that included our “elder saints.” He was polite and didn’t look directly at me, but the message was received!
Suddenly, oh so suddenly, I am old. I am on Medicare! I have been retired for almost a decade.
Memories of earlier days are so fresh, so vivid, but I must confess, I am a senior citizen and am darned lucky to have a Cub Scout watching out for me.
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.