REFLECTIONS OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN
I find it hard to believe I am a septuagenarian. But my birth certificate confirms it.
I don’t feel like I am that old, although I suspect I must look it. The first realization of encroaching old age (apart from the usual tell-tale signs of galloping grey, rapidly thinning hair) happened about five years ago when I was going to work by tram and a 20 something young lady politely proffered her seat. I quickly glanced around me, naturally thinking her offer was for someone in obvious need such as, a heavily pregnant mother to be, or an ancient retiree, or perhaps someone with a disability. But no, the offer was made to ME!
Of course, I indignantly replied, “No, thank you!”, precariously clinging onto one of those heavy plastic anchor-shaped devices dangling down from the roof as the tram lurched and swayed when it hit one of those ridiculous curves in the tramline in St Kilda Road opposite the Arts Centre in Melbourne.
I don’t feel I am in my 70s – more like, say, my late 30s or early 40s. Maybe this is a psychological defence people of a mature age put up as a denial of the obvious?
My wife’s late grandmother was a classic in this regard. At the age of 92, my wife took her to see her doctor about her failing eyesight. She too, became quite agitated when he suggested her problem was caused by her advanced years. “Old! What do you mean old? I am not old!” You could understand her point of view though, because she was still driving her car, cooking her own meals, doing the housework and tending her small garden at the time.
The words a work colleague, Les Nielsen, said to me 54 years ago still ring in my years. “You will be old one day!” he said, in response to my calling him a silly old bathplug or something similar, as we played our usual jousting game one morning at Bushells (a tea and coffee company located at Circular Quay in Sydney) where I was working as a newly-appointed, full of himself,executive trainee and he was a soon to be retired, long-standing employee. I retorted with something stupid like, “I will never be as old as you!”
Why is it, I wonder, I can still clearly remember that exchange which occurred in 1961, when virtually anything else that happened that year has passed completely from my memory?
Anyway, his words stuck in my conscious memory and my pathetic reply has remained embedded in my conscience.
He was right on the money. Age does not discriminate, it gets everyone eventually.
Even smart ass 18 year olds who think they know it all and believe they are bulletproof and age proof as well.