Forward Living: Growing old is not a reason for giving up


Growing up, one of Mom’s famous “Mom-isms” was “Celia! Act your age.” Jeez! How I hated those words. Now that I am a gal of a certain age, I get ticked off when some 30-something magazine editor tells me to dress age appropriately — in other words, “ to act my age.”

I recently read an article titled “Fashion Tips for Women over 50.” It’s a totally ridiculous take on the dos and don’ts of fashion. Frankly, it stinks of ageism. The writer admonished that wearing hemlines above the knee bordered on indecent. Huh? Showing too much cleavage, possibly, but the knee?

The writer stated that under no circumstances were we to “prance around” in stiletto heels. Prance? Probably not, but we can walk. I call my heels “restaurant shoes.” I walk from my car to the restaurant. Hmmph! If the shoe fits, wear it.

Are gals of a certain age destined to look frumpy? Absolutely not! We gals can look fabulous! Gone are the days when the over-50 crowd was considered over the hill. As a matter of record, some of us are still running up hills in our sixties, seventies and beyond.

The over-50 crowd is hitting the gym and attending yoga and Pilates classes. I know an octogenarian gentleman who reminds me regularly that retirement is for sissies. Maybe, maybe not. I still love my work; however, I haven’t reached the golden age of 80. And besides, I’ll probably be involved in another career. Writing the great American novel sounds exciting, or becoming a noted photographer like my friend Steve. Walking the beach photographing the natural beauty that surrounds us sounds like a stellar plan.

Speaking of octogenarians, in the Book of Exodus it is written that Moses parted the Red Sea a little past his 80th birthday. I don’t think I’m gonna part the sea anytime soon; my breast stroke is a little weak. But isn’t that impressive?

Renowned folk artist Anna May Robertson (aka Grandma Moses) began painting at the age of 78. She is quoted as saying, “Life is what you make it; always has been, always will.” She continued painting until her death at 101. My kind of gal!

Former President George H. Bush celebrated his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by parachuting out of planes. Not my thing, for sure. I’d rather enter a marathon dance contest. But what he said speaks volumes: “Just because you’re an old guy, you don’t have to sit around drooling in the corner.”

Many folks love retirement, and I get that. I was retired, once. However, I returned to work full-time after my husband, sweet Frank, died, and it was the best thing I ever did — for me. Meeting new folks and really old folks at the assisted living facility has taught me so much about life, loss and courage.

Our advancing years may cause some maladies that would prevent all-night dancing or jumping out of planes but we can age gracefully and continue to lead vital and fulfilling lives. Some of my friends attend adult classes at Stony Brook University. By pursuing their quest for knowledge and intellectual stimulation, they remain interested in life and interesting to be around.

Some folks entertain the notion of doing something creative, different and exciting until the “I’m too old” bugaboo rears its head. C’mon — we can get what we want or just get old, and besides, age shouldn’t matter unless you’re a wine or cheese. But then again, wine and cheese improve with age.

In “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau wrote: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. “

“Discover that I had not lived.” Imagine kicking off without having really lived? Something to ponder, eh?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

Photo credit: David Benthal