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Elder Language: Someday

On a TV drama recently, the character of a hard-charging professional woman who appeared to be about 30, was asked if she intended to have children. With a dismissive wave of her hand she answered, “Someday.”

As I immediately remarked to Ollie the cat, “That's easy for her to say but my somedays are over.”

Then I wondered when I had stopped using – even thinking - the word “someday” in relation to myself.

The word refers, of course, to a point in the indefinite future – how far forward is debatable, I suppose, and possibly individual.

In my usage, that time period would stretch from at least two years from now unto the grave – I've used it mostly to mean a long while from today at a time I cannot determine right now. But planning for anything a “long while from now” hasn't seemed useful for – well, a long while.

In a few days I will be 72 years old and even though the bean counters tell me my current life expectancy is another 16 years or so, that certainly is not gospel or a promise. Plenty of people die when they are younger than I am at the moment.

“I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”

Like Benjamin Franklin, a lot of old people read the obits. I've never liked them because too often I learn interesting things I wish I had known when the dead person was alive. But once or twice a month, I run my eyes down the The New York Times index of recent deaths.

Because only well-known people get the full obituary treatment at The Times, I recognize a lot of names but mostly I check out their ages. It's gratifying, these days, to see how many live into their 80s and 90s but it is the people who died younger than I am that I'm looking for.

Just last week Paul Williams, who founded one of the earliest and best (in my estimation) rock and roll magazines, Crawdaddy, died at age 64. British actor Richard Griffiths was 65, as was porn star Harry Reems.

Those ages don't seem fair to me, not fair at all. But they are a reminder that none of us knows our departure date. Mine could be sooner than the actuaries predict so “someday” hasn't been a choice in my life for quite awhile.

What's curious is that I don't recall making a conscious decision to stop deferring intentions into that indefinite future but given my automatic reaction to that young character's “someday,” apparently I did so.

Have you stopped thinking in “somedays” and are there other words you think stop being applicable to elders?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Oh, Such is Life


Some day I may live for a couple of months in a gypsy wagon in the English countryside. Some day not long from now I want to create a one-woman show titled A Young Forest and an Old Forest are Different. Some day it would be wonderful to spend a month in India. Just a few of my list of the some days to come.

At 80, I don't think in somedays anymore.It's sort of now or never.

My word that I've eliminated is "hurry."
You'd be surprise at how many otherwise-caring people don't realize my slowness these days is not a choice. I tell everyone that the word "hurry" is no longer in my vocabulary.

Someday ... I too will cease to be. I hate to dwell on it and yet, I must be aware of the end. I do not make long-range plans anymore. My last car was with me for 13 years. I traded that one in ten years ago, telling myself "This one could be my last purchase." I'm now hoping that it's true. At my age, I shouldn't buy any green bananas or plant any fruit trees hoping to eat their first fruits. I've already exceeded the three score and ten spoken of in scripture. That milestone surprised me. In fact, I was surprised when I achieved 41 years of age.

I've stopped telling someone that I'll be there in a second. There's no way that's going to happen. Perhaps being there in a minute is stretching it a bit.

It takes me so long to get from here to there now, I'm really confused when I realize how quickly time goes by. Those last three words are so appropriate, and so, I'll end this here. Great topic, as usual Ronni.

Back in the late fifties (when you had to be careful when you went outside to avoid being swooped on and eaten by a pteroadactyl), I like many of my generation, used to listen to insane humorist-monologist Jean Shepard on the radio.
I've always remembered his riff on the terror he and his friends felt about the possibility of not making it to twenty-one.
I have a simple attitude nowadays: if I get up in the morning,I'm ahead of the game; if not, I probably won't be worrying about it.

I'll be 89 next week and, oddly enough, I still think in terms of 'some day.'

I have acquired a new attitude about doing things. I used to think that if I do not do something today, I will have time to do it later. No longer. Nowadays If/when opportunity knocks, I open the door immediately.

I still like to think in terms of "someday". In my heart of hearts I know I will never see the Great Wall in China, never venture to other worlds, never create great works of art, or pilot a hot air balloon ... but "someday" keeps the fantasy alive. It's a word of hope and optimism, and I'm never going to give it up.

Such a wise, and excellent Post, followed by equally wise, and excellent comments. I like somedays as well. They are dreamy.

"If not now, when."

If I have the strength (at 87) and opportunity to do something that I want to do, I do it!!!

There was a wonderful Weavers song years ago. One of the verses was:

I get up each morning and dust off my wits.
I open the paper and read the obits.
If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead,
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Always, Never, Forever.

However, I'm liking some of these "nevers"...as in "I'll never have to do _____ again!!!"

If not now when. I ask myself this regularly now. Someday - naw. My dead friend's daughter just passed from cancer. It affected me profoundly. 51 - with a 29 year old and a 12 year old. I don't take another Spring for granted anymore.
Wonderful post, Ronni.

Outliving my Mom, if only by a
few minutes, is my goal....
My last b'day was my 81st....
Mom began her 103rd year last
New Years Eve.....

Fortunately, we are both very

My Great American Novel is in the works.... It will be finished, "someday."

I'm 71 and up to this past year, up to age 70, someday was a long list. Someday I want to live in Paris for a year. Someday, I want to find a lover who will accompany me on inner and outer adventures. Trekking in Tibet. Explore Mosques in Morocco. Temples in Thailand. Go to outdoor summer concerts on a whim. A year ago I began to have incessant back and foot pain that limits my somedays. I ask what will be of service and beautiful today. Cleaning the cat box. Feeling the sun on my face. Seeing a smile on the chech out counter person's face. No more someday. Only now and a shorter list and room for surprise.

Very good post and I so agree with most of the comments. Thank God for each day with the prayer "Modeh Anee" - which praises him/her for letting me (and Syd) get up today. We will be wed 50 years on the 21st of April and have reached a point that we take each day as it comes...feels better that way.

I did hope to travel more someday and now I know I won't, that someday is out even though my md keeps insisting I will likely live to be 90. Really? Can't make up my mind if that is good news or a warning.

What I have done is changed my actions. I set up my easel in my kitchen because the studio I was going to have someday won't happen and I am happily painting away again. I am walking around town and the local parks because hiking the Pacific Crest Trail someday is out of my reach. Someday has been replaced by the practical realities of my physical limits as well as time. And a friend showed me on a map where we could get on the PCT for a walk and a picnic.

What I have done is changed my actions. I am making some of my doable somedays into do-now plan. I set up my easel in my kitchen because the studio I was going to have someday won't happen and I am happily painting away again.

Lyn's post struck a cord too, people don't realize I am not voluntarily slow. It took me sometime and two falls to realize "fast" was no longer operational.

My "someday" dream was a leisurely road trip to the Grand Canyon. I also thought, "Someday, I will have a big kitchen." And on a more personal level, I thought that maybe, just maybe, my husband would learn that the vacuum doesn't care whether the person using it is male or female.

The day I realized that there is no chance for any of these things, or a hundred others, is the day I felt old. Oh, well. As they say, old is better than the alternative.

I've always thought too much in "somedays" and not enough in "todays." In the last few years, however, with my 70th birthday arriving next week, I've begun, very reluctantly, to give up on some of the dreams. I can't comfortably drive for long hours anymore, I'm more wary about being alone in unfamiliar places, my budget is more limited, etc. Trying to reconcile the realities right now is depressing.

I used to engage in friendly conversation but now I don't. It could be widowhood or it could be that I turned 60 at the same time or it could be that society changed and people only converse with electronic devices. I'm the Queen of Social Networking but rather invisible in the real world.

Every year I find myself asking myself -- can this body still do this ambitious thing I still hope to do?

So far, the answer is mostly "yes", though the preparation for whatever mountain or hike is involved gets more difficult as I forge on past 65. But "someday" -- soon -- the answer will be "no." I try to know that.

There are a couple of projects, one somewhat complex, that I want to get finished before I die. So I have set up a timeline in my head. Realizing there are no guarantees, I have estimated conservatively how many years I may have left. I am breaking the big project into sections and giving myself some deadlines.

I realize this approach might not appeal to everyone, but I like to feel I'm accomplishing something useful.

I see I repeated myself in my post above. My kids would laugh, one of them said "someday, maybe you'll stop repeating yourself." Ha, fat chance. And cut and paste makes it so much easier.

I'm only 60 (that's right, I said 60) and already feel as though I need to cram everything I want to do (mostly travel) into the next 10 years, which is an awfully short time. I used to adhere to: "I'd rather burn out than rust out," but have quietly adopted the inverse of that axiom. Regretfully relinquishing the "someday"

In many ways I live as if I will never die. Like the old man who bought a Magnolia Tree. The young salesman looked at his grey hair and wrinkles and said, " You do know they don't bloom for many years (I think it was 7, but that isn't the point), don't you?" The old man said, "Good. Give me two then."

Then I face reality and know this day/month/year could be my last and I am in a rush to do the things I want to accomplish before I check out.

Mostly, I just don't dwell on death. I try to live a healthy lifestyle so I will be able to take care of myself until the end, but beyond that it's not in my control anyhow.

Someday my Prince will come...

In reading this post and the comments, I realized that people are using the word "someday" in two very different ways. Some are referring to "someday I won't be able to do this, so I am doing it now" and others are saying "there's no someday left in my life". One variation makes a person do more things, the second variation seems to limit the person's activities. Please, please enjoy each day to its fullest! Do all that you are able to do. Take on challenges, look forward to something, make plans as you are able. My sister died the day before her 50th birthday. I am sure that she would give everything she owned to have even one more day here with all of us. Each day may not be like it was when we were younger, but there is something to be done each day. Even just one day can be someday.

I don't think a single person here believes they are limiting their lives.

Neither Ronni nor anyone in the comments has said they don't take on challenges or look forward to events or make plans for whatever else interests them. And if you really believe "one day can be someday," I think you have missed the point of this story.

Maybe some of us are just being realistic about what is possible now for all kinds of personal circumstances and reasons no one else can know.

But mostly, let's not be judgmental about what is the right way to live and what is not.

Someday..... I will live in my home by myself...since I have raised 2 generations of children and have a college grad under my roof again as she saves to get her own apartment. Sad to say, I went from college to marriage to having children and a grandchild to raise and never a life alone. I wonder what it is like!

"Someday"--what a wonderful concept! Everything will go perfectly--planes, cars etc. arrive on time--weather just as you like it--and all plans work out as dreamed! At 85 that's the way all my 'somedays' are! BUT, today I can tell my children how much I love them, how proud I am of them and what a wonderful job they are doing with my grandchildren! Thank you to today!

How many days left? Do I want to know?
If I did would it change any thing? I guess I'll just go on as if there was a "some day" and make every day count.
Does anybody remember John Gambling on the radio who sang: "Try and live today so tomorow you can say- 'What a wonderful yesterday'"

I think many of these comments are thoughtful, especially the difference btw "someday I won't be able to do this, so I am doing it now" and someday meaning "there's no someday left in my life". Really, no one knows the future, even the five year old.
This brief video shows that we can always have hopes and dreams ,no matter what age. http://www.wimp.com/womandreams/

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