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.
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.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!