Getting old is not like getting pregnant—a poem about preparing for old age

cartoon: big palm tree beside old house with daisies

Are you preparing for old age? Would you even want to?

Preparing for old age is scary
scarier than getting pregnant
twenty thousand miles from home.
Now my body has to face
the prospect of extreme old age.

What scares me most is the unknown
and so I study hard.
But hey, old age is not like pregnancy
One ends with life, one ends with death
and when I said I’m getting old,
nobody said to me, “How lovely!
Congratulations!
Is this your first old age?
When is it due?”

Oh no, they told me:
“You’re not old.
You’ll never be old.
I’ve never met anyone less old than you.
It’s all in the mind.
Age is just a number.
Try homeopathy.”

~ Rachel McAlpine


I read this poem aloud and talk about it in Episode 2 of my podcast.

Preparing for old age is scary. We all have our own approach, and some like to start preparing a little bit in advance.

Have you read this poem previously? I want my blog to be in sync with the podcast. That means republishing some poems. (Oops, you didn’t need to know that!)

11 thoughts on “Getting old is not like getting pregnant—a poem about preparing for old age

  1. Haha! Love it! So true.

  2. Sadje says:

    I love this poem. 👍

  3. Cathy Cade says:

    Good poem – it makes you think…
    Getting old creeps up on you (‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf..?’) Then you look in the mirror, and there it is!
    It takes longer than being pregnant (fortunately, in both cases).
    Unlike pregnancy, it can’t be avoided, although more strategies for avoiding both are formulated every year – too late for some of us…

    1. Hmm, all true. Delay and mitigation are still choices, luckily.

  4. mpardi2013 says:

    The juxtaposition of pregnancy and old age is particularly provocative. While each can be described as a development, pregnancy is the development of a, presumably, extended future; old age is the culmination of a development long past.

    1. True… Except a great deal of development continues well into old age.

  5. I love this! Who would think a poem about old age could be so fresh and original? (Apologies to Jenny Joseph’s Warning Poem, which seemed fresh and original until I had heard people quote – or more often misquote – the first line “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple” ad nauseum).

    I don’t know why, but in my head this poem is recited in a Scottish accent. I’m trying to pinpoint the region…

    1. Aha! You can hear my voice on the podcast, but I’d love to hear it in a Scottish voice.

      1. I’ll listen to the podcast…

      2. It’s good to meet you, Jane

      3. Lately, my visits to WP have been a bit erratic, but I hope to get to know you better.

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