By Deborah Sherwood
I am a Baby Boomer–part of a group of post-war Americans born between 1946-1964. As a child, I hula-hooped, watched the Mickey Mouse Club, and dreamed of being a carhop at the local A&W.
As a teen, I swooned over The Beatles and danced “The Twist.” My hair parted in the middle and hung straight down to my waist. I wore mini-skirts, white go-go boots and hip-hugger pants. Today, my wardrobe consists of polyester elastic waist pants, loose blouses, and jackets that cover my expansive middle. I often wear a feather clip that covers my thinning hair and makes people think I’m quirky.
When I became a septuagenarian, I experienced a magical, cosmic conversion transforming me from an annoying old woman into a Cute, Little Old Lady (CLOL). Being a CLOL is like having a Get out of Jail Free Card. No matter what I say or do, people just sigh and give me a tolerant smile.
Recently, a young woman walking toward me said, “Excuse me, but did you know your shoe is untied?” (I didn’t.) I thanked her and leaned over to tie it when she offered, “Let me do that for you.”
Last December, a few friends I had invited for a Holiday Luncheon inadvertently knocked on my neighbor’s door. They were told, “This is the wrong apartment. You want the elderly lady next door.”
The physical aspects of aging are obvious; my skin no longer fits, I don’t walk as quickly or as far, and I could swear I used to be taller. On the upside, I am no longer terrified when I catch my reflection in a store window, since I’ve finally concluded my mother isn’t still haunting me.
A woman I met at a church conference suggested I join their ministry to senior ladies in nursing homes. “That sounds nice.” I responded. “Do you play cards with them?” She answered, “Oh, no. We pluck their chin hairs.”
As I rapidly slide down the short slope of the actuarial life table, my brain and body have become sluggish. Although I make an effort to keep up with the fast pace of changing technology, I am embarrassed to confess I asked a sales associate at Staples for a new printer ribbon.
This month, I will celebrate my 72nd birthday. My mailbox is incessantly stuffed with catalogs sent by companies eager to sell me items that are all allegedly beneficial to my aging body. Compression socks, oversized cell phones with gigantic buttons, and vitamin supplements top the list. One by one they get tossed into the recycle bin.
Although, I have considered an I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up button. Might be worth looking into…
Deborah Jones Sherwood happily resides at River Park in Southwest D.C.