Growing old at any time is bound to be confusing. Being one member of a globally ageing population is doubly confusing. Our parents didn’t grow old like this! If you’re lucky, you too will grow old one day. So watch us as your models, good or bad.
We are your templates
When we bang on about our trips
and our memoirs and our blogs
and our grandchildren (the best of kind)
and our ills and pills and volunteering
and our hearing aids and hips
pay attention, don’t switch off
this is the first time we’ve ever grown old
and we’re wondering how to do it
not just for us but for you.
I state my age out loud and often
not because I’m proud
but to populate the middle ground
between the ones you know:
the marathon-running nonagenarian
and your tragic memory of someone
whose ending was unbearable
as far as you could tell.
I’m a middle child, an average, a sample
squatting on top of a bell curve
and my name is Legion.
You don’t notice us but we’re OK.
Look at us and know
old age has many faces
let’s keep our options open.
Reflections on life as we grow old
It’s true: growing old in a first world country today is confusing. To some the “silver tsunami” is a national horror story for the economy, business, the health system and more. To others it’s an opportunity for well-being after retirement. Every scenario is playing out simultaneously. We can’t see the big picture yet. We can only do our best at the task of growing old, based on our personal values and a lifetime of practice.
MP3 recording of this poem
Poem and photo CC BY 2.0 Rachel McAlpine. Feel free to share, citing my name as the author.