Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By the Time I'm Your Age...

What is age?

Oh, I know it’s a number, but must we get hung up on that? I’m reminded of my chronological age often enough. Every time I fill out paperwork, I’m asked for my date of birth. Every time I take a survey, I have to tell what ‘age group’ I fall under. And every time September 20th rolls around, I have to add another candle to my cake. In recent years, I’ve needed to get a ‘burn permit’ on that date, as well.

I know how old I am. What I want to know is how to tell what my age is on the INSIDE. See, in my mind and spirit, I still feel like an eighteen year old. I still like to giggle and act silly. I still find wonder in simple things. I still want to make my parents proud of me, even while raising children of my own. Once in awhile, I even think I’m young enough to be attractive to the opposite sex.

But then, I get a reality check. I walk by a mirror, for example. In masochistic fashion, I sometimes pause and take a gander. The proof is in the reflection… gray hairs, small wrinkles, medium wrinkles, even one or two good-sized ones. Occasionally, I am reminded of my advancing years by my own body’s rebellion to tasks or movements which–once upon a time–wouldn’t have been worth remarking on. But now, if I spend an hour or two piling firewood, I’m lame for hours. When I rake the lawn or weed the garden, my back gives out, forcing me to walk like a hunchback for several days afterwards. I can get a stiff neck by sneezing. I can get stiff muscles by doing nothing more than sitting still for a half an hour. My outer shell and my physical body tell me that I am growing old.

And then, there are other peripheral reminders. I was chatting with a man the other day; laughing, sharing interests, talking peer to peer. That’s how I felt, anyway. Until the fellow caught me off guard with this statement: “By the time I’m your age…”

My head snapped around.

“Why, you little…!”

All of a sudden, I was reminded that this man is only five years older than my son Guy. All of a sudden, I realized that when you are thirty-two, a forty-six-year-old seems part of another age group. Another generation. I felt old. By the time he is my age, I will be sixty.

A piece of furniture over fifty years old is considered an antique.


This wonderful young fellow (whom I reflexively called a naughty name...sorry, sweetheart) meant nothing disparaging by his remark. He’s NOT my age, and by the time he IS, we will have colonized Mars. I need to accept reality. To him, I’m fast approaching my dotage.

The little…

On the opposite side of the coin, I was made to feel youthful and spritely by a friend who gave me these words. “I’ll leave that work to you young kids, who still have energy and spunk.” Well, everything is relative. Comparatively speaking, my spunk level is pretty low. But to this seventy year old gentleman, I’m a kid. And I can live with that.

And so, I see-saw. One minute I feel like a girl…funny, vivacious, full of spirit and life. The next, an old crone covered in cobwebs and camphor and sporting Depends.

Age is state of mind as much as it is a number. The trick is to remind myself that every time a youngster views me as an ancient one, there is an older person looking at my comparative youth with longing. It’s best if I learn to embrace my maturity, yet feel free to occasionally act a little bit immature. There are benefits to being older, just as being a kid has its perks. And once in a while, even an old gal like me gets a nice surprise.

In the tire store the other day, the man behind the counter not only handed me a card with his phone number scribbled on the back, but he knocked eighty bucks off the total cost of my four tires. The phone number was useless, as I’m a happily married woman. But the number on my invoice was very welcome. After all, I’m approaching retirement age, and every little bit of savings helps.

I’ve got to admit… getting hit on at my age made me feel good. It made me feel YOUNG. And the guy who showed the interest? He wasn’t an old man, by any means. He was just a young pup of fifty-five or so.
Bottom photo is author Karen Bessey Pease at 16 years old.
Top photo is Author Karen Bessey Pease (note the same sexy specs) as she sees herself in 54 years. Lord willing and the creek don't rise...


  1. "That Little"....................May 19, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    A certain large busted, not so young herself, Country singer once used the line; "One is only poor, only if they choose to be......"

    I've often thought of that line, and it seems like it could also be said; "One is only old, only if they choose to be........"

    Some of the most amazing people I've known have been the ones who didn't let age stand in their way. I've seen men in their 80's who could out work the 20 somethings trying to keep up with them.

    I've also seen a woman of 46 who has more energy and enthusiasm than most college girls, and who could work them to death any day of the week.

    Don't feel bad Old Lady. I've got friends who tell me that if I'm lucky, I'll live long enough to know what it's like to be old, too. This is usually about the same time that they remind me that if I don't watch my mouth, I might just NOT live long enough to get old! ;)

  2. Well, you little.... hehehe.

    When you started out with the "large busted, not so young herself" comment, I thought, "Well, there he goes AGAIN, getting himself into more s**t!" The I continued to read, and knew it wasn't me. Country singer, I am not... except in my truck. When I'm alone.

    You'll live to a ripe old age, I've no doubt... you can't keep a good man down, right? Or is it... only the good die young? I'm so confused...


  3. You get your kicks on route 66.....

    'older person looking at comparative youth with longing'

  4. My friend, Ali g...

    You are so young at heart that you will never really age.

    Okay, so SOME people would call you immature... but not me!

    I call you "just right".


  5. I'd hang onto that phone number. Play your cards right and you could end up with *free* tires.

  6. Heh... it's been a long, looonnnngg time since I've needed to "play cards". Knowing my penchnt for social gaffs, I'd probably wind up paying double, and irritating my resident "tire changer", at the same time.

    I'd better stick to being "cute, by accident"...

    (Love your avatar, btw!)


  7. I have this book titled Senior Moments. Starting to wonder if you may have been the subject.

    Tee hee hee.

    Joking aside, though, whatever age you may be, never forget that life is too short to die too soon.

    Live long and prosper.

  8. The Subject of Many Inspirational BooksMay 21, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Oh, tee hee hee, CP! Aren't you just the cutest thing!

    :o^) <--- That, in case you can't tell, is me poking my tongue out at you!

    Another life lesson from my friend Crookedpaw... "Life is too short to die too soon." Hmmm...

    Stick with your day job, won't you, darlin'?

    Tee hee hee!