The golden teens and old trash

Published 7:06 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I ever thought “old.” Even long ago when I was 6 and felt a 30-year-old was ancient. Even as far back as two weeks ago when I thought that Geri’s 103-year-old mother was old, I apologize.

This “old” term belongs to shoes, dresses, encyclopedias and antiques.  The word needs to be tossed when it refers to humans. Just go get the trash can right now and throw that “old” word away so the trash collector can pick it up next week. 

Every six months, there are eight of us in our neighborhood who get together for birthday celebrations. We divide the group in half according to when the birthdays occur. Those who celebrate birthdays from February through June are hosted by those who have birthdays from July through January. Last Friday was the day for our semiannual party.

We typically have lunch, trade crazy birthday cards and act silly.  As I was standing in the kitchen of my neighbor’s house, I thought about this diverse group of women who are in their 60s and 70s and realized they were about as old as my 13-year-old granddaughter.

They were telling jokes, laughing at themselves, busy as little bees and taking pictures.  We dared each other not to spread any of the “not so flattering” photos.  Behind the limps, a few wrinkles and a few ailments were the same souls that God created 60 or 70 years ago.

The cards we exchanged were mostly about growing older, mirrors that lie, hearing loss, and unspeakable things that are only typed in words inside a card.  We laughed until we cried while blowing out candles and sitting around a beautiful dining table adorned with all things classy.  The table was the only classy thing there that day.  The rest of us were just a bunch of unruly, trouble making teenagers throwing the word “old” in the trash.

No one complained about the aches, the weather, or the state of the nation.  No one lamented about age, times gone by, or wishing their time would be extended.  Everyone’s cheeks turned red, hoped the day wouldn’t end, and grateful we had these moments to just be who we are, which had nothing to do with our age.

Our society puts seniors in a category that is deemed not as relevant, not as savvy and not as pretty as other folks. I agree we might not be as visually appealing as we once were, but shoot, those folks I had lunch with are as relevant and savvy as they have always been and probably more so.

Age teaches us that there is no more procrastinating and no more not being the best version of ourselves. They say an old dog can’t learn new tricks. I say new adventures and hobbies keep the older younger and the dog happier.

Grandma Moses began painting at age 78.  Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing her book series “Little House on the Prairie” at age 65.  Harlan “Colonel” Sanders franchised KFC at age 62. What if they had been afraid to start a new adventure because of their age? They threw “old” in the trash.

A lot of us who reach golden years start getting gold stars for complaining. Drives me a bit crazy. This group complains about everything from waiting for the weather to cool or warm, waiting for the doctor, the waiter and waiting for all the young folks to see the light so they too can complain. These are the folks who are just plain cranky and give us golden teenagers a bad rap. Yes, one day my heart might give me trouble because heart issues are rampant in my DNA.  Yes, one day I might not recall a person’s name or where they once fit into my life. Yes, one day my obit will be in the paper instead of my column, but I refuse to die old. I refuse to complain about the world, but instead, remind folks they are loved by a God who instructs us to live. A loving God who wants us to use the soul he gave us till our heart no longer beats. If he isn’t done with me why should I be?

So, don’t call me old.  My soul and spirit are the same as when I was younger and I relish the air I breathe and the folks who share my air.  If you want to see youth, come over to the party where golden teenagers gather to throw old in the trash and covet each day as new, joyous and an adventure.