Just a Stone’s Throw from Elderly

NOTE:  Today’s post is a flashback to 2010 B.C.C.T.S. (Before Churchyard Chick Turned Sixty).  Tax Season reminded me of this story, and I wanted to share it with you just for the fun of it.

“You have to do the taxes today; don’t put it off any longer,” my ever-nagging conscience reminds me.

“What a happy way to start the day,” I retort as I ease myself out of bed, grope for my glasses, and fit my feet into my fuzzy red velour slipper-booties.  The aroma of my pre-fixed coffee tempts me, but first I have to take care of my morning duties.  (As if my sleep had not already been interrupted twice by “nature’s call”.)

The cat is demanding her breakfast, so I accommodate her and then head to the rocker for my first cup of coffee.  After swigging the first cup, I pour a second and reach for my morning banana.  Trying to follow a healthy eating pattern, I am incorporating more fruit into my diet, as well as more fiber.  The next phase of the routine is my daily oatmeal.

During the third “nature walk” prompted by the coffee, I catch a glimpse of myself in the much-too-huge, natural-daylight-drenched mirror and make a mental note to color my hair soon.  The surprise reflection also prompts me to yank open the drawer where my moisture cream stays at-the-ready to lubricate those lines that insist on appearing around my mouth and eyes.  “I’m really too young for this.  I’m only fifty-nine and a half,” I console myself (fudging just a little on the “half”).

I confess I have already been dreading sixty.  Turning fifty was not traumatic.  But fifty is the last “fun” milestone birthday.  The “Old Lady” parties, the black crepe and going to your party in a hearse sort of lose their comic edge when you know that “middle age” is no longer where you can even pretend to be.

“Sixty is old,” I had recently whined to my sister.  She said nothing.  I was hoping she would, as always, say something comforting.  “You sure don’t look it” or “It’s only a number” or even “Sixty is the new forty.”  But this time there was no attempt to paint over the truth.  I suppose it was a sobering thought, even if she does have several more years to revel in her fifties.  Apparently it jolted her into speechlessness.

My husband is already there.  I think his sixtieth birthday was a bit depressing, but he has navigated the new waters very well.  He “doesn’t look it” and he still likes rock music, but not “this new stuff — it’s just noise.”  His daily nap helps keep him young, I suppose.  He doesn’t even wear glasses . . . unless he wants to read.

The pain in my lower back brings me back into the present moment, so I continue my journey to the kitchen to pop a couple of capsules.  As I reach for the bottle, I notice the bottle of Vitamin D to be taken twice a week.  Is today the day?  I try to find the sticky note where I wrote myself a reminder.  My glasses, perched as far on the tip of my nose as they can be without falling off, are not helping.  I take them off so I can hold the paper six inches from my eyes to read it.  Today’s the day.

Mid-morning I finally remember my task for the day, only because I have left the tax booklet on the kitchen table so as not to forget.  I need to put my bi-focal contact lenses in, and even so, I still need my cute little rhinestone-studded “cheaters” in order to read the booklet before me.

Seated in a business-like pose at the table, I begin to study the instructions.  A former teacher, I like to read everything first.  On page five, in a blue box, in microscopic print, I find these words:  “The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program provides free tax help . . .”

“Nice,” I thought, until I finished the sentence . . . “to people age 60 and older.”

Yikes!  Sixty is “elderly”?!  Wait a doggone minute here!  “Elderly” means “ancient” or “senile” or “one foot in the grave.”  “Elderly” refers to someone much older than ME!  Doesn’t it?

Recovering a bit from the initial shock, I begin to wonder about the actual definition of the word.  What would the dictionary say?  Surely the IRS people have made a mistake.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

Trying to ignore the crackling sound coming from my right knee, I head upstairs to look it up.  According to my very heavy Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1989, the word “elderly” is defined as “somewhat old; between middle and old age.”  Okay, not old, only “somewhat” old.  What a comfort.

This whole disturbing episode has now thrown me off for the entire day.  There is no way I can concentrate on filling out the tax form after this revelation.  As if it were not irritating enough to realize the IRS had been “somewhat” correct in their usage, now I, because of my burning desire to read everything, can no longer live within my paradigm of ignorant bliss, thinking that “elderly” does not include people just a stone’s throw away from my own location on the time line.

The little blurb in the blue box needs a different word.  The connotation of “elderly” simply is not in line with the image my generation wants to project.  Why not just use “seniors” like the rest of the world?  Does the AARP have exclusive rights to this term?  If the sixties are, according to both the government and the dictionary, “between middle and old,” we need a cuter name, similar to “Tweens”, coined by the teen-wannabees.

I resolve to think about it.  But not right now.  It’s 4:30 — time for dinner.

“I’ll think about that tomorrow,” I assure my forever-young inner self.  I persuade my conscience that I still have plenty of time to file the taxes.  But if we need assistance, my “elderly” husband will have to make the call.

I’m not there yet!



About Jan Hamlett

Exploring faith outside the safety of Sunday
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