Monday, January 17, 2011

When does old age begin?

Ronni Barrett on her blog Time Goes By -- see sidebar and click to read her thoughts -- asks this question: when does old age begin? She is 69 and and facing the Big 7-0 apparently with some of the trepidation I felt a couple of years ago. She always inspires a lively number of comments so they are worth reading also.

Parenthetically, let me say the delightful cartoon here is from another blog, click here to see it

I have nothing insightful to add to Ronni but a small anecdote: yesterday was clear, very calm, about 30 degrees. So Rachel and I and Molly the dog walked a couple of miles on the beach. Only a few people were about and those were also accompanied by dogs. We all trotted along at a good pace -- good enough that I felt pleasantly warm except for my exposed earlobes. Molly was very happy to be out [her walks this time of year are usually quite short] and she trotted on ahead of us with obvious animal joy. Molly is a largish dog of mutt heritage that includes some heavy coated herder and she is 16 years old, which puts her not so far from 100 if converted to people years. And, as one person we met said, "you don't usually see big dogs that live that long."

Her hind legs are not as strong as they used to be so she had some difficulty jumping up into the car and climbing the three front porch steps, but she can still do it although the car may take a couple of tries. If I live to 100 and have the spirit and energy she has I will be a very, very lucky person. She is, to me, a picture of successful aging.

Everything about yesterday's walk was lovely, the winter-gold marsh grasses, the very thin layer of ice on the little kettle ponds in the marsh, the broad beach where the tide was way, way out, the seagulls gathered like randomly tossed stones in the parking lot, and the magnificent, late afternoon glow of light in the sky. Rachel and I chatted randomly as we do and chatted very briefly with other dog owners as the dogs did their circle and sniff routines. I didn't feel older than 40 or 50 or 60, nor did Molly.


standing on my head said...

hmm, interesting question. i turn 60 this year, an age i never expected to see. i don't know when old age begins, but i'm assuming i'll know it when i feel it, mentally, physically, or emotionally.


Your walks with Molly are always a delight to read. Perhaps in her old age she realizes her limitations (back legs) but does not narrowly focus on this liability. She still knows that life has much to offer and she walks and wags along with spirit in her heart. She doesn't know she is old -- sorta like standing on my head said. Do we really need to draw boundaries around old age? My answer to my own question is spiritually no. -- barbara

June Calender said...

Thanks, friends. Our definition of "old" is part of the question. If it mean deficits, incapacity, nasty imitations, yes, we'll know it. If it means wise, seasoned, understanding and spirited, maybe we won't know we're "old" by other people's definition because we'll just be the person we've been becoming all along.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely walk. Big dogs are wonderful, but I live in the city and they are difficult to keep in crowded spaces.

Have you thought about getting one of those ramps for dogs? That might make Molly's jump easier and safer for her.

June Calender said...

Very good suggestion, Schmidley. I think Molly would appreciate that. I'll pass it idea on == she belongs to my daughter and family. I walk with them often because they are only two blocks away. And sometimes I get dog sitting duties, so Molly feels partly mine. I have consideraby empathy with her aging process.

Kass said...

I think about this a lot lately. I refuse to be old just because someone else says I am.