Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On becoming a senior citizen: morning-after thoughts

[A toast to a new era]
Yesterday I turned 65.
Twelve days ago my Medicare insurance (parts A, B, D, and supplemental) took effect. Any day now my RTA Reduced Fare Permit will arrive in the mail. On Friday my husband, who is also 65, will be officially retired from the job he held for 28 years.

It feels like adolescence all over again, but with less energy.
Like our three teen-aged grandchildren, we are making big decisions that will affect the rest of our lives. Should we stay in our familiar environment or move to a different part of the country? Our granddaughters have opted to move: Katie is beginning college nearly 2000 miles from home, Susan is considering colleges all over the country. We've been involved in a wide variety of work and extracurricular activities: is it time to refocus and choose the one(s) that interest us most? Our grandson Chris, about to start high school, is making similar choices.

It also feels like being two years old, but with less cuteness.
Our grandson Max, who is impossibly cute and universally adored, still has daily trials that seem a lot like ours. How do we deal with the frustration of knowing what we want to do but not being able to do it? Do we want to be independent ("Baby self!"), or do we want the security of nearby family ("Mommy come!")? The answer, of course, is both, and when we can't have both at once, we might fuss just a little.

Or is it more like a midlife crisis, but with fewer distractions?
Our middle-aged children's lives are in as much transition as ours. One daughter has recently gone back to work after a 16-year hiatus, and it won't be long before her nest is empty. The other daughter has, in only three years, become a tenured professor, gotten married, had a baby, and bought her first house. One son-in-law's company and the other son-in-law's industry are undergoing major changes. And they're all starting to think about how to help their aging parents make good decisions ("Move closer to us!" "Don't buy a house with stairs!").

Well, as C.S. Lewis wrote in an entirely different context,
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
--Mere Christianity
Note to self when, overwhelmed by change, I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall: maybe I'm just banging my beak against a permeable shell.

1 comment:

Karen DuBert said...

I love this post. And that is one of my favorite Lewis metaphors. I, too, am realizing that end-of-life issues are more significant than identity and survival any more. Thanks for sharing, LaVonne. And with all the advice you are sure to get (from those intelligent chidlren you raised), I'm sure you and David will make the right decisions.