“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”
Jane in Aisle Eight
John Prine, the great song writer, has a song called Hello In There. It is a mostly sad song about growing old. At the end of the song, he encourages you, listener, to go on over and say hello in there to old people sitting on the porch. I’m sure you know this song as well as I do.
As an active senior citizen, I do what many oldsters do: I take my shopping to WalMart. Today I met Jane. She is a proud member of the class of ’65. When JFK was assassinated, her whole town shut down for a week. Her best memory of that time was that all the little girls loved Jackie Kennedy and they all wore pill-box hats. She got married when she was twenty. Her husband knew Lyle Alzado, the football star and they used to party a lot. Jane told me that she was shy in high school but, believe it, things were not as chaste in that time as you might think.
Last week, I met a woman who was ninety years old! She lectured me to not get the flu shot. She got so sick from a flu shot. She had out-lived four husbands and lives alone now. No cane, no wheel chair, there was no stopping this woman; even from talking.
A few weeks ago, I was putting my groceries in my car in the parking lot at WalMart. I saw this lady about to put her key in the truck but the car drove away. I laughed and asked her if it was the wrong car and she said that she was lost. While we were talking, she told me that she was eighty years old. I told her that she was doing great, driving her own car, getting her groceries. She said, “Well, a quickie a day …”. I let her see her intended shock on my face and she said, “just kidding, just kidding.” I smiled to let her know that I thought that she was not kidding at all.
It doesn’t take much while waiting in line to turn around and chat with the person behind you. Usually you get a curt nod. But sometimes, you meet a cheerful person who will make you laugh and make your day.