Elder Social Needs
Time Goes By Update

How It is to Get Old

Don't call me honey.
Don't call me sweetie.
Don't call me darling or dear.
And don't shout in my ear.
I can hear what you're saying quite well.
I believe that your impudent query
Was, Who did you used to be, dearie?
To which I reply, sugarplum, lambie pie,
Go to hell.

I've written at least two blog entries on how abhorrent elderspeak is, but that little ditty says it so much better – and succinctly - than I did.

When my brother arrived for dinner recently, he brought me a slight, little book with a bright, red cover titled, Unexpectedly Eighty and Other Adaptations. When I saw the writer's name, I blurted, “Is Judith Viorst still alive?”

Not only alive, she'll be 80 next February. Somehow, for years – well, decades – I lost track of this funny lady whose poetry at one time gave me many laughs and nods of agreement, too. “Exactly,” I would think. The years have not diminished her ability to combine the not-always-so-wonderful facts of life with humor.

At the optometrist's office a couple of weeks, I was told that my cataracts continue to grow, but not so much yet that it is time for surgery. Instead, I got a new prescription for my contact lenses and was shocked at how much clearer the world is with them. Judith again, titled “Revelation?”

When I awoke this morning
The world was radiant with newness.
Indoors and outdoors, all had been scrubbed clean.
The sky had achieved a blue that seemed beyond blueness.
Whites were whiter than white, greens greener than green.
And the edges of everything,
Windows
Walls
Tree trunks
Blades of grass,
Stood apart from the edges of everything else
With exquisite clarity.

How can I explain this? Revelation?
No – successful cataract operation.

And who has not felt this - titled, “One Hallmark of Maturity is Having the Capacity to Hold Two Opposing Ideas in Your Head at Once.”

My scalp is now showing.
My moles keep on growing.
My waistline and breasts have converged.
My teeth resist brightening.

I'm in decline.
It's positively frightening.

A new moon's arrivng.
Sinatra is jiving.
My husband is holding my hand.
The white wine is chilling.

I'm still alive.
It's positively thrilling.

Sometimes, when I walked around my neighborhood in New York City imagining all the people who had lived and died in the buildings I like so much, I would wonder how it could possibly continue without me to see them and think about them after I am dead and gone. Judith Viorst has been thinking something similar in “Missing.”

I think I will miss myself more than anyone else will.
I miss myself now when I wake in the night, too aware,
With my eyes pinned wide-open,
My nails in my palms,
Breathing the darkest of air,
and imagine the world going on,
And on and on and on,
And on
And on
An me not there.

I think I will miss myself more than anyone else will,
Myself as a part of this world that holds all I hold dear.
Since they make no exceptions
The time will arrive
When it's my time to disappear,
And the world will keep going on,
And on
And on
And on.
How can the world still go on
If I'm not here?

You don't need to be eighty to enjoy Judith Viorst's takes on elder life. The holidays are nigh upon us and this book would make a terrific stocking stuffer for a friend or two.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Richard J. Klade: The Commander Salutes Some of Us


Comments

"How can the world still go on?" is shot through life. I remember thinking/feeling, "How can the birds go on singing," when my husband was in Viet Nam?

I am definitely going to miss myself and I think that's a very good thing. That means I've enjoyed myself these many years.

Thank you for sharing "Missing." I've been thinking about dying lately - it's no longer shocking when people my age die of something. It's not pleasant; it's downright scary. It's good to know I"m not the only one; thank you for reminding me of that.

Love Judith Viorst. Through all her ages, she has shared so much truth and wisdom and made me laugh at the same time.

Judith Viorst's "Alexander and the terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day" is still one of my most beloved books, whether it's for kids or not! See:
http://thedasslerdiaries.blogspot.com/2010/11/kathleens-terrible-horrible-no-good.html

"When it's my time to disappear." speaks to me. It's a lonely thought. I only hope I will not disappear from the memories of my loved ones and friends.

My time to disappear draws closer with each day and I am reminded of that as I grow tireder. But I don't swell on it and try not to think about the day when the "bell tolls for me."

I can't believe Judith Viorst is in her eighties. I knew her from the column she wrote for Redbook magazine--all about raising her little boys. A quick google shows she's still a very busy woman.

I started reading Judith Viorst's Alexander books to my kids soooo many years ago. And then she continued to make me laugh at the same time that she captured fully the angst and middle-of-the-night thoughts of the decades I was passing through, starting with "It's Hard to be Hip Over Thirty." The last one I read was "Suddenly Sixty," and she was still capturing those thoughts that ran through my mind -- but also helping me filter the scary thoughts through a humorous lens. It's nice to know that she's there to give voice to my seventy and eighty year old thoughts should I get there.

Thank you for introducing me to Judith Viorst. Her verses are very compelling (especially 'Missing'). I'll look into her work.

heh heh I'm still looking forward to my next re-incarnation...judging from this one, it's gotta be a well-earned Doozy!!!

So good to know that Judith Viorst is still around. Have to get this book for sure. Thanks Ronni for updating me! Dee

Good old Redbook magazine and Judith Viorst. What would we have done without her. Thanks for the memories.

Three cheers (at least) for Judith Viorst. I never had kids so I didn't read her books back in the day, but I really like what I've seen of her take on getting older.

I LOVE go-to-hell. If there's one thing I detest (besides Sarah Palin and the tea bagger bunch) it's being called dearie, etc.! It doesn't happen to me often. Maybe I just look like I'd give anyone who called me that a right-back-atcha!

Thanks for sharing these. Uplifters all.

Thanks Ronni you made a downie day a little uppie.
XO
WWW

LOL She was in town recently too.

An old/young friend called today and asked how I was. "Upright," I replied, and he did catch that and laughed heartily.

Not ready to miss myself yet. :)

I think about when I remember my mother and grandparents, I think of them all the time; but, I bet my children do not....and that makes me sad. They were larger than life, but are no more.....

What I detest most of all is when some clerk or cashier etc calls me "Young lady" At almost 81 I am not young but I am a lady.

This happened recently to my 81 year old husband at the grocery store. The cashier called him "Young man". Made him angry. Made me angry too. So I called the manager and told him to advise all his employees these "terms of endearment" are actually put downs. So knock it off. Hasn't happened since at that store.

Thanks for this post.I especially appreciated "revelation." It reminded me of my own revelation when I first got glasses as an extremely nearsighted youngster. I was amazed that I could see leaves on trees and my father's face across the dining table. Now, like you, if I don't go "missing" I will face another revelation with cataract surgery at some point. Thanks for this post. Not only did you give stocking stuffer ideas for my fellow over-sixties, but you also reminded me of wonderful stocking stuffers for grandkids.

The "young lady" comments are, indeed, condescending and I hate them, too.

I got that "missing" feeling once in the hospital when I finally was able to walk down the hall (with my IV pole!) and watched all the cars on the street below as people raced to their daily destinations. I realized they'd carry on just the same if I hadn't made it.

I do regret that so many old family memories will die with me--little things no one else knows. Some that I can't tell them!

I wish I could be happy, but growing old makes me sad.
notone

My Mom's favorite lines in the years before she passed - were "forget it" and "there comes a time". It is nice to be able to speak up when someone hurts you with those expressions. I wish I could...I just automatically, give it back with - "sure dearie"....infact JUST FORGET IT!!!!

I'm not a big poetry lover, but that one about missing myself... very cool! I'm definitely going to buy that one for my mom's Kindle!

I love it! I didn't connect the Judith Viorst in your blog with the Alexander books until I read the comments and I was surprised to see her other decade books on Amazon. Have you read the others? I am going to order one right now.

Yeah, I've enjoyed Viorst, too.
We should check up on the whereabouts of a lot of these favorites we haven't heard of for a while.

My Mom always said, "I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to miss anything." Exactly how I feel.

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