Congratulations on completing the easiest part of life. Yeah, I remember thinking I’d conquered the world—then I entered it.
Now that life has knocked me around enough to know I’m clueless, I’ve become a big fan of the other kind of seniors—old-timers, golden-agers, gramps, grannies, geezers and fogies. Whatever term of endearment, they’re the sages of society and some of my favorite peeps on the planet.
As a senior year in high school I first learned to value life veterans. I was a school officer and with my fellow delegates we decided to host a senior-senior prom at a nursing home as a service project. On a Saturday night, we put on our puffy-sleeved formals, teased our perms into place and hired a DJ to play alternating sets of oldies and eighties. The convalescent residents decked out in generous doses of polyester and Old Spice. We shimmied, shuffled and yelled conversations over the blaring music.
While I was having a good time, I was preoccupied that night because I’d invited a new crush to come to the dance. He couldn’t come until later, but assured me he’d arrive in time to be my protector in case the old men got frisky. As I danced with Albert, Stanley and Floyd, I kept checking the door.
Floyd knew, “If he ain’t here by now, sweetie, he ain’t coming.”
Floyd was right.
He took my hand and said, “Any numbskull who’d stand you up ain’t worth it, so forget about him and let me show you how to swing!”
I learned some new moves that night and I learned to love a generation who would teach me many important life lessons.
Many of those lessons came when I moved into my first home as a young mother. The established neighborhood of quaint modest homes was mostly occupied by newlyweds and nearlydeads. I’d entered the throes of adult life and was scrambling to figure out parenting, homemaking, yard managing, marriage preserving, bill paying, etc, etc.
I initially tried to connect with my peer group of young moms in the hood, but found those associations often added to my anxieties. The conversations at play group about charter school vs. traditional, the hazards of immunizations and antibiotics, marathon training methods, essential oil testimonials, extreme couponing, the brainwashing subtext of Disney movies and on and on left my head spinning.
Just as I was about to bubble wrap my family and head for the hills, a group of white-haired angels took me under their wrinkled wings.
The silver sisters of the neighborhood offered me noncompetitive friendship and reassuring words, “You’re doing fine. It will all work out.”
I believed them.
They’d already been through the stage of life I was grappling with and—for better or worse, for organic or synthetic—they’d survived it. Like Floyd from the prom, they convinced me to stop looking at door of what may or may not be and just swing.
Now, I’m the most flattered when a sweet silver citizen stops me on the street, or in the store (or the temple, shhhh!) and says, “I love your column!” If my inexperienced perspectives resonate with true lifers, then that’s saying something.