It never stops being shocking when you begin to realize how old you are getting to be. I know first-hand that will never change. My father is 93, my mother is 90 and they both often say how surprised they are to be as old as they are. Surely, when you are over 90, there can be no more pretending, but the pretending actually stops long before that.
Approaching 65, I see the senior label coming at me. Although I look forward to the senior discounts, I am not looking forward to much else. I recently asked an older friend if turning 65 had been tough. He thought about it, looked away, then looked right at me and said it was the day he realized “Forever Young” was just a song.
I recently attended a Shabbat service where the rabbi was the age of my oldest daughter. It was a milestone for sure. It is all happening so quickly. After all, just a few months ago, the government of Canada was put in the hands of a new generation. So many members of the present cabinet weren’t even born, or, were small children, when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister.
When you enter your senior years, there is always a tell-tale moment that drives it home. It is, for example, when you have to give your age. When you say your age, and the questioner records it without a double take, that is the moment you know. The mirror can still tell a lie, but no one would believe it except you.
Once you know the truth, you get used to things. Like when you are registering for something online. That simple question about what year were you born makes for a giant scroll backwards to reach the right year. When you find the year and press “continue,” that birth year number looks like the “olden days.”
When I think of my “olden days,” I think of huge flashy American cars and bad westerns on black-and-white TVs with rabbit ears. I have a feeling many of you reading this won’t know what “rabbit ears” are. You should Google it.
This makes me wonder how young people see me. At first blush, probably, as an old-timer from a bygone era that is no longer relevant. That is why, more and more, I do everything possible to stay relevant.
I will always want to know what my children and grandchildren are talking about. It is a huge challenge to keep up because technology continues to change everything ten-fold; a trillion-fold since “Father Knows Best.” Please Google that, too.
I learned the lesson about respecting my elders and I am sure today’s movers and shakers will too. I was part of a generation that went from a manual typewriter to a smartphone – which is as amazing as my parents’ generation that went from the speed of passenger ships to commercial jets. Interestingly, in both instances, speed is the magic measure of progress.
Interesting and obvious, too, is how you naturally grow older with other people who were born around the same time as you. Some are siblings, friends, enemies, colleagues and former colleagues. And then there are all those many professionals you dealt with for decades.
There is a replacement doctor filling in for my family doctor of 35 years who is now, deservedly I am sure, taking a few winter months off. It is time for my annual physical and, when I made the appointment, I was clearly told the doctor is female. I said to myself that if I say I no longer want an appointment, I will be opposing every principle I’ve ever had about gender equality. So, wanting to be true to myself, as well as with the times, as Justin Trudeau said when he formed his gender-equal cabinet, I made the appointment.
If I had a bad knee or something there would, of course, have been no second thought at all about a woman doctor, but an annual physical involves getting undressed! Anyway, long story short, I didn’t cancel.
And, as I sat waiting, undressed, in the examination room, I was clueless as to what was next. The door opened and, just like the rabbi, a doctor my daughter’s age walked in.
We both survived the examination.