Lois Cronholm, Age 85
80 is the new 80. While anyone reading this title is likely to know why I am writing this tome, I ask your indulgence to read on. There are some half dozen expressions that either bore or annoy me. “How are you” when they really would not want to know. Or “You look wonderful” which translates into “For her age.” But the two worst are: “70 is the new 50” and “Age is only in the head.” 80 is not the new 60. 80 is what comes after 79 and it is on its way to 81. Age may be in the head, but as an uninvited invader that removes fond memories; age is in the arthritic encroachments into what were agile muscles and bones.
If luck follows you into this decade you will get there with your spouse. But you will not be planning your next trek up Mt. Everest together, or washing sand off your back from that great lay on a dark beach. One of you is or soon will be a caregiver and one a caretaker. You will find this is more challenging than scaling mountains, less romantic than a swirl in the sand. Once I was a role model for young women aspiring to the kinds of professional success I enjoyed; now I am a role model for how to be a successfully formerly successful old lady. Once those boots were made for stomping; now they are in that Good Will bag before that fall which is the scourge of old people.
‘Tis true: old age is not for the timid. I am old and not timid. How old? As of this writing, closer to 86 than 85. While I am a non-timid happy old lady. I loathe people who pronounce the key to their happiness a universal principle. So I won’t do that, never have. But I will drop the principle of privacy as all of us who write our stories must (or should) to give you one of the endless streams of mottos that punctuate my tale. To thrive, not just survive old age, fight but don’t deny. (Hah, I slipped two homilies into that one short sentence — I, about whom it is said “It takes her a paragraph just to say hello”, with a painful reminder it is my own adored son who thus portrays his mom.)
So my tale is about how I stumbled into readiness for the fight, how I enthusiastically fight now that the time has come, how I recognize time to deny, and how I became ridiculously satisfied even in denial. If it fits wear it. If it doesn’t it will be a good target to criticize; either result is my gift to you.