By Carole Marshall
Posted 4/10/24


A conversation with a friend segued into aging. She commented that I didn’t act or talk old, wore youthful clothing, stayed very active, and basically didn’t live like an …

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A conversation with a friend segued into aging. She commented that I didn’t act or talk old, wore youthful clothing, stayed very active, and basically didn’t live like an elderly woman. I told her I didn’t feel my age and just kept happily plodding along. She asked, “What, if anything, do you think will make you feel old?”

Her question (annoying as it was) was food for thought. Would I ever feel ancient? After a few moments, I had an answer. “I’ll feel old when my youngest son becomes a grandfather.”

Well, come this June and without my permission, that will happen. Steve’s lovely daughter and her husband will welcome their first child.  Avoiding the initial question and my answer about feeling old, since youngest son will be entering a new life phase and my eldest son is already there, I decided to bypass the “What will make you feel old?” issue and broach the concept of aging from the grandpa’s point of view.

“Becoming a grandfather doesn’t make me feel old,” commented Steve. “I don’t really think in terms of old, but I’m very much aware of the passage of time and how it seems to be accelerating. Becoming a grandfather doesn’t impact that, but my daughter turns 30 this year and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that one.”

I asked Steve about the pluses and minuses of becoming a grandfather. He didn’t like the question, said it sounded like entries in a ledger book. As he is so good at doing, he rephrased my words in a gentler way. “Through all the ups and downs (or pluses and minuses) of life, I just hope my daughter and granddaughter are happy and healthy.”

Steve added that he was excited to become a grandfather and commented about my father. “My only real experience with a grandfather was Gramps, and my memories of him are 100% positive, so I’m looking forward to being that person in someone’s life.”

My eldest son, Jim, is a seasoned, happy grandfather. The first thing he brought up in our conversation was my father, his Gramps. “Given my relationship with my own grandfather, I feel that I am successful if I’m even half the grandparent he was. It’s a special role to have and I’m grateful for it.”  About the grandparent vs parent situation he says, “I’m not responsible for the day-to-day battles of providing for and disciplining the grandchildren.” Jim doesn’t see any downsides to grandparenting and says the pluses are many. “I have the time and resources to do things I may not have been able to do with my own kids.”

On the subject of old he adds, “Being a grandparent doesn’t necessarily make me feel old. Getting old makes me feel old. I’m not a fan of the physical aspects, especially the requisite aches and pains. However, being able to see my children and grandchildren grow and flourish is quite rewarding.” Analyzing the concept of aging he said, “My perception of time tends to make me feel old. When I was 17, 30 years prior was 1949. Now, 30 years ago, I was starting my career and having children, that stuff makes me feel old.”  Ending on a positive aging note he added, “Mentally I do feel quite young: I am the fun, no judgment, easy-going Pappy.”

So, with my youngest son becoming a grandfather, does my initial statement hold true? Do I finally feel old? Well, I recently found a quote that deals with that irritating question. I like it so much it may show up in a few other good aging columns. It is my new mantra “Old is older than I am now.”

To date, we have four great-grandchildren with two more on the way; six lucky kiddos who will grow up with outstanding male role models in their lives. And when it comes to wonderful men I think about my father, a cherished dad and delightful, warm example for my boys, the grandpas.

Let’s keep up those good aging spirits and adapt a senior community slogan. Old is older than we are now.

Carole Marshall is a former columnist and feature writer for a national magazine. She’s had stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and has written two novels and one fitness book. She is working on aging in good spirits.