Class is not dismissed

Posted 4/24/24

Are you ready for a cranky columnist? While most of the time I’m cheerful and in a positive mood there are those occasions when my buttons are pushed, and I react. In a recent conversation with …

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Class is not dismissed


Are you ready for a cranky columnist? While most of the time I’m cheerful and in a positive mood there are those occasions when my buttons are pushed, and I react. In a recent conversation with a younger family member, that’s just what happened. I had done some in-depth research on a medical issue we had previously discussed. I was anxious to pass the info along. When I did, my data was gently dismissed. Seems he was working with his neuroscientist nephew and my research wasn’t needed.

Torsten Hirche, CEO of Transforming Age, the eighth largest nonprofit senior living provider in the US, notes that, “Ageism remains one of the last socially acceptable prejudices. Negative perceptions impact our experiences not just individually but for family members as well and amplify loneliness and social isolation. The need to make a societal impact has never been greater.” He goes on to say, “We are reaching retirement age with better health, more mobility and an increased desire to connect, contribute and make an impact.”

Before I was an old poop myself, I worked with older people. I was a medical assistant and an exercise trainer for seniors. Moving on to writing, I wrote articles for a national magazine that often focused on active, influential senior citizens. They weren’t notables with recognizable names and careers, they were regular people. And those older folks, who I respected greatly, taught me a few things about aging into a productive life.

Eleanor, 87, known as “The Bird Lady,” worked diligently and successfully to have a Pacific Northwest island, home to 85 species of birds, designated a national wildlife refuge. My entire story about Eleanor has been reprinted several times. It’s an important read about a compelling woman.

Seventy-something Penny, having to give up sailing because of serious health issues, started and subsequently ran a successful condiment business.

Mr. H. who came to his 90th birthday party impeccably dressed in a three-piece suit, bowtie, and shined shoes. “I wouldn’t leave the house any other way,” he said. “Mother taught me to dress like I’m somebody. Don’t know about being somebody, but it makes me walk a little taller, feel a bit stronger.” And Mr. H. was somebody. Fun loving, polite, with a lifetime of valuable information he willingly shared.

My father, 82, walked every day, chauffeured neighbors to doctor appointments and grocery stores, and aided the disadvantaged.  My father-in-law, a well-known magician, continued to perform into his eighties. He also ran his magic shop where professional comedian Jack, 88, would often entertain customers.

Expert craftsman and everybody’s Grampa G. (if I had to guess I’d say 90 years old) created his beautiful, handcrafted wares in his trailer along a rural Connecticut roadside.

Today there are a number of gifted, productive friends in my age group who I admire. Ruth, a skillful writer, Donna an artist of extraordinary talent, my California gal pal, a spiritual sacred channeling sound healer. There’s the grandma who adopted her at-risk granddaughter, the retired nurse nursing her terminally ill daughter, the gentleman with the walker and neat gray beard who tutors struggling students.

Finally, my favorite exerciser, 100-year-old Jake, who sang Willie Nelson tunes when he rode the stationary bike and took me on a tour of his small garden. “Listen,” he said. “Listen to the birds, smell the flowers and grass, breathe in the beautiful life around you. That’s the good stuff.”

And speaking of “good stuff” this old gal works hard to write informative, inspirational, sometimes humorous stories about aging. I also work at being authentic because I respect myself and you, my readers.

Wise, energetic, valuable old souls like us are an asset to the community. Look around you. Salute those active oldies in your midst. Salute yourself. If you’ve found your niche, hooray. If not, tap into your gifts, because they are needed. Our class of informed, significant, strong senior citizens should not, will not be dismissed. “Changing perceptions around age and aging opens us all up to new possibilities and empowers us to thrive in our aging journey.”

Feeling much better now and back in good aging spirits.

Carole Marshall is a former columnist and feature writer for a national magazine. Her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She’s written two novels and one fitness book.