REIMAGINING THE ‘GOLDEN YEARS’
By Terry Baraldi
“Aging Out.” That’s what they said about us old folk. Out of the workplace, out of our cars, out of our homes. An irrevocable slippage into irrelevance. Whoa! Wait! What? Not me! I’ve still got stuff to do, stuff to learn, and most of all, stuff to TEACH. I’m not aging out, I’m AGING IN!
You know, my gray haired mother used to say that people thought that women’s brains leaked out with our hair color. And I could see her point every time I took her to a doctor or a store or anywhere where she tried to speak for herself. For generations of Americans, we seniors (old folk, codgers, grannies) were largely, however gently, dismissed from social discourse, even when it was about us….But that was then.
Today, thanks largely to social media, we have the chance to use our years…and years!… of what we’ve learned and observed to add our voices to conversations of import. So I, now as one of the gray haired tribe, find myself empowered to speak what is in my head and heart. Sometimes, I’m told, to the point of annoyance. Oh well.
Well, this was NOT how I imagined life in my “golden years.” I thought to spend the last one or two decades left to me as gentle counselor to my family, my descendants, the people who came to me for simple comfort and the wisdom of the aged. A 21st century Mother Goose…not Brunhilde the Warrior! Again, oh well!
It’s my belief that women, and maybe especially mothers, are hard wired to reach out, to make protective circles, to put others need above our own, and to help wherever help is needed. That has, after all, been our identity for so long. But I have a feeling that, in the updated model of fierce women, the wiring may have been reconfigured. And to all those who have embraced independence and eschewed the old style domesticity… that’s OK. We need you in the houses of industry and halls of power. Go and be great!
But my inner circuitry makes it impossible, no matter my age, to shrug off the dangers I see looming ahead; impossible not to want to be part of the solution; impossible to look away when my family, my neighbor, my country is imperiled. I’m weary, but will stand with my boots on until everyone is safely tucked into a bed.