Posted by: Naomi Baltuck | March 17, 2013

Warning: Mature Subject Matter

I have two sisters with very different attitudes towards aging.  One plucked out every gray hair as it came in, until finally she realized she’d have to dye it or go bald.  The other said, “I earned every one of those!”  And she wears them proudly.

When I went out for fish ‘n’ chips with my friends Pat and Sharon, I was a little shocked when the guy behind the counter offered me the senior citizen discount.  No mistake!  I qualified for the 55 and older 10% discount!

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been carded.  Worse than that, the guy took my word for it!

Mom once told me she was riding the escalator at Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit.  She saw her mother riding down the other side and waved before she realized she was looking at a giant mirror, and was waving at her own reflection.  She said it was always a surprise to look in the mirror and see an old woman, when inside she still felt like twenty-five.

But my mom was always young at heart, brave and adventurous.  When suddenly widowed with seven young children, she packed us into a VW van and drove us up 1200 miles of gravel road on the Alcan Highway through the Yukon to Alaska.

She had an open heart and an open mind.  She never stopped learning, she traveled at every opportunity, and never took herself too seriously.  She set herself challenges, read everything she could get her hands on, learned new pieces on the piano, played Trivial Pursuit.  At fifty, she memorized The Iliad, in Greek!  It all kept her young.

My mom, when she was terminally ill.

We have choices.  I’ve heard it said that life expands or contracts in direct proportion to one’s courage.  We can live in fear of old age, and watch our world shrink.  Or we can find new ways to savor it.   I know someone who resumed smoking cigars and eating sausage at eighty.  I’m not judging him.  Well, yes, I am.  I think it’s great.  I want to grow old, you know, wearing purple and enjoying my Good ‘n’ Plenties.  When my knees go, I’ll find other ways to travel.  When I can no longer walk, I won’t be an armchair traveler.  Like my Aunt Loena, I’ll be a wheelchair traveler.  The world is full of stories, and I want to hear and tell them all.

All photos and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Inevitable.

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Responses

  1. Nice story. I’m ready to let my hair go natural. Tired of getting it colored. But not brave enough yet.

    • I know plenty of old women in young bodies, and hair color has nothing to do with it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with coloring your hair. Whatever makes you feel good. I go back and forth.

  2. I don’t die my hair to hide the gray. I am just happy to have them going gray. 🙂

    • I know plenty of old women in young bodies, and hair color has nothing to do with it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with coloring your hair. Whatever makes you feel good. I go back and forth.

    • Hey, Keith, way to keep things in perspective! Thanks for the visit, and for helping me start the morning with a smile.

  3. I suspect that you might get quite a view visits from folks thinking this post is about something else. 😉

  4. […] For a ladies perspective check out Naomi Baltuck’s blog. […]

  5. I love your attitude, and I believe in the same thing. There is no question that as we get older, some of our capacities are diminished. I have a dear friend who tells me all the time about how many brain cells have gone in the last year, teasing me… But as long as we’re willing to learn and open our eyes to the possibilities, looking for the good in life, we discover alternative paths that offer just as much as we’ve lost, and often more. I believe that old age is a wonderful experience. I learned to appreciate it when still young, from some old folks I had the pleasure to know, and now that I am old myself, I am enjoying every minute.

    • That’s wonderful, Shimon, and wonderfully expressed. Thanks so much for bringing so much to this conversation.

  6. Sounds like you had pretty terrific roll models. How wonderful. Lovely pic of you and your daughter. Your mom looks beautiful. How spirited.

    I had the same reaction the first time I was given a “senior” – prefer “elder” – discount … They didn’t ask me for ID???? Yikes ~ Now I don’t care, of course. Nice to still be here; and, as though that weren’t enough, I get a discount. Hooray!

    Love “wheelchair traveler!”

    • Dear Jamie,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I always love to hear from you.

      You are a traveler through the depths and currents of time and human emotion through your poetry.

      (That photo is actually my big sis on the left, and me on the right. It was taken about ten years ago on a trip to England. We enjoyed all the signage over there, and that was one we had never seen the like of.)

  7. I’m 38. Not qualified to comment larger than life. I’m yet to see to say and I’m a poet, a cry-baby. Only on one account I spare God “Another bad phase means more ideas to write. That’s what I live for”

    • I am so glad you joined in the discussion, even if you are still a young man. It is good to think about and anticipate. I wish you lots of brilliant ideas and inspiration without too much pain!

  8. Wonderful post, wonderful! I laughed, and yet it is so true! My Aunty Beryl never do get over the urge to climb trees, vault gates, or go scrumping for apples!

    • Oh, Lois, what a wonderful character your aunt sounds like. Thank you so much for your visit, and kind words, and for sharing Aunty Beryl with us. I hope you post some more stories about her!

      • No doubt I will… I’ll never forget the time we were on holiday in the far north of Scotland and she wanted to show me some very rare orchids, so we drove miles and miles into the wilderness and stopped to look at a very green lush pasture surrounded by a barbed wire fence. We peered through the wire looking for the orchids and I asked her what colour the orchids were as I looked at the verdant grass… they’re green she said…!!!

  9. Great attitude! I hope Medicare is still around when you get to 65. That’s another card to show off 😉

    • Hi Carol,
      Right. And there is another advantage to growing older. My mom used to be painfully shy, but she said that as you get older you can say anything pretty much anything.

  10. That’s hilarious. The story of the elevator reminds me of when I was 16 and went racing down the stairs at my cousins house and saw myself in the mirror . It turned out that it was an old photo of my own mother at 16 that I looked at. I got the shock of my life. I now see my mother’s eyes look back at me every time I glance in the mirror and it is not a bad thing at all. I know I did a reversal here but it goes to show how great stories prompt wonderful memories.
    10%! I would go for more if I got carded.

    • Wow! Lesley, that is a very interesting story. I see my mother in my sister’s face as she grows older, and it is kind of sweet.

  11. Love the picture of your mom, and her attitude. Glad you inherited it.

  12. I’m all about the senior discount, yeah!

    • Oh, yeah! Thanks for visiting. So good to hear from you.

  13. Mature subject matter, always the best kind. Lovely post.

    • Thanks for the visit, Sabrina. I hope you are well.

  14. A great tribute to your Mom and to an adventurous spirit, Naomi. My wife and I didn’t meet until our mid 30’s, and she was pushing 40 when our 2 children were born. Sometimes when she’d take our kids somewhere, passersby would smile at the kids and say something like, “Oh, you’re having a day out with GRANDMA”!

    • Thank you, J. A.. More and more that is happening, with women waiting to have kids. I was 34 and 38 when I had mine, and a lot of the moms in the kids’ classes were around the same age. When I walked out with the kids, though, sometimes I saw what looked like children parenting children. I was a much better mom for waiting, although my kids never met three of their four grandparents because they were already gone before they came into the world. We just have to be grateful for finding each other, and for our wonderful kids.
      I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your story!

    • 😀 wondrous…
      Ohhh I know the feeling! My first child was born when I was 40 years old, the second at 43… “mature” mothers okay, but aware that this gift is just amazing! [sorry to pop in like that] :-)claudine

  15. Beautiful, Naomi – and just the kind of post we folk who never get asked for our ID any more can laugh with.

  16. “We have choices.” The nugget that’s worth its weight in gold. I got lucky…50 years old and yet to find a second grey hair, although widowed with 4 kids. But my choice is not to be a victim. My husband used to say, while dying from diabetes and coronary artery disease, “Pain is inevitable; misery is optional.” My youngest daughter has that tattooed on her chest now.

    • Scilla, your husband sounds like such an amazing person.

      • Oh, he truly was. 🙂

  17. naomi- i totally loved the story of your aunt and trip to nyc! i firmly believe people with open hearts attract others with open hearts!

    • Thank you, Linda! I firmly agree with you! I’d heard all sorts of scary stories about NYC, but everyone we met was really kind and thoughtful.

  18. Loved this post in getting to learn more about your family and such a great way to look at things. We can’t stop time, but we can live young as long as we want!

    • You are very sweet! It is always good to hear from you.

  19. Elderly should not be stigmatized and especially women that seem to devaluate with each coming year, but the society is like this; try to find a job once you past 35 – not that easy… and I am not talking about hostesses….I admire your spirits Naomi, and your story made me smile.

    • Hi Paula. Ageism is rampant in our country, especially toward women. I thank you for your visit, and for sharing your thoughts.

  20. I got carded buying beer this week, and it pretty much made my day as I am almost 40. I just looked at the guy funny though, because I have quite a bit of grey hair. Stopped coloring it a few years ago when I decided I didn’t like the color anymore. Anyway, your Mom sounds like she lived an inspired type of life. That’s the best.

    • Carded, yeah! Thank you for your visit, and your very kind words!

  21. I am with you…live life to the fullest and keep on going. Inspiring story about your mother. Love the escalator story – that is cute. Funny how much our attitude can influence how we feel and look at the world.

    • Thank you, Anita! I really appreciate your visit, and your words.

  22. I love this post, Naomi! Thank you for sharing the inspiring story of you mom. I wrote a story about my mother http://wp.me/pSlDL-2jV if you have a moment…

    • Hi Amy,

      What a sweet story about your mom. Thank you for the link! She sounds like a very dear person.

  23. Love that picture outside the Ship and the sound of your mum – what a great lady

  24. Better to be young at heart and moving, learning. Keeps the ticker going.
    On a Tuesday Senior Discount Day in a department store, when I was around 60, the under twenty-year-old cashier told me she’d given me the discount–didn’t ask. Not even a bad hair day…my hair newly coloured and all–I think. Ha ha.
    Your mom sounds wonderful and you’re a chip off the old block.

    • Hey, I’m old enough now to get the senior discount on Fridays at Fred Meyers Department Store, but I forgot all about that. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for all really kind words, Tess.

  25. you have become the most interesting woman your mother was. Love your tales –

    • I don’t think I ever could be, but you are so sweet to say so! Thank you for your visit, and your generous comments, Laura. It is always so good to hear from you.

  26. This was great! I loved the title! Some days I struggle with what I see in the mirror, but most days I’m just thankful I’m here, and healthy enough to enjoy all that I see!
    I don’t want to be in fear of growing old either, and I’m rather fond of purple! 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful week!

    • What a great comment! Thanks so much for stopping by, and taking the time to share your thoughts.

  27. Your mom sounds like an amazing lady Naomi! And she seems to have passed on some of her spirit and joy for life 😀 Thank you for a wonderful, fun look at ageing 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words, Madhu. I did learn so much from watching my mother, and the choices she made.

  28. 🙂 Beautiful story!!!

    • Hi Rexlin,
      Thank you so much. I always appreciate your visit.

  29. I love the story about your mom on the escalator! Aging is something we all have to do so might as well have some fun with it. Those senior discounts should help with that too! 🙂

    • Hi Sheila,
      I agree! My mom was quite tickled the first time she got offered a senior discount, and she called to tell us all about it. And I absolutely agree with you; since we all have to age, we might as well have fun while we are doing it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and sharing your insight.

  30. A wonderful post. I love reading about people who have spunk! Never give up!

    • Thank you for stopping by, and taking the time to comment. I appreciate your encouragement.

  31. Loved your post! A sense of humor goes a long way in life.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks so much for the visit. As a writer and as a human being, of course you would understand and appreciate the need of a sense of humor. We can laugh or cry, and whenever possible, I choose laughter.

  32. I’m a great fan of Good n Plenty, too! Funny story about the elevator. That was some road trip, Alaska! I’ve been offered the discount more lately. It’s always nice to save money!

    • Heck, yeah! I’m happy to have the discount, too. Thanks for the lovely cheerful comment. It’s always good to hear from you.

  33. your mom looks famous …

  34. When my grandmother was 80 and getting married for the 4th time — to a younger man of 65 — I was in my 30s, and I said to her, “I’m so happy that you found companionship, Grandma.” I swear I didn’t mean to be condescending, but Grandma just looked me right in the eye and said, “To tell you the truth, Kim, he turns me on.”

    Whenever I feel old I think of her and remember how she put me in my place about aging. Grandma died at the age of 99 with her “young” husband by her side.

    • Hi Kim,
      What a character your grandmother sounds like, and what a great story! I love that, after marriage at 80, she still had 19 years with her husband. Thank you for sharing your story, and a very interesting perspective. It is always good to hear from you.

  35. This is the reality that binds us to earthly existence, dear Naomi. I have no words to express the feelings that sometimes pervades my soul… increasingly blurred, and I like to believe that it is a hormonal issue. But I am sure that, in the end, the fear is common to all beings. Until a few years ago, I looked at my reflection smiling [into the mirror], confident that I would never cease to be positive…
    Then, perhaps ’cause of even exogenous factors, I find myself looking at the reflection of a mature woman, full of concern for the future of her children.
    What have we done? What we failed to do?
    And so, like a terrible shadow, doubts are hanging over me my heart!
    Of course, our mothers would have much to say…
    However, their silence, sometime, is eloquent!
    One thing is certain: it’s not enough to be [like us vegetarians] trying to become vegan as well… something absolutely must change otherwise the destruction of this planet will no longer depend only on the good sense…
    but even 50 years ago, our mothers, had a very different view of “their present”. What should we do, right now, to change the course of history?
    Have a lovely week :-)claudine

    • Dear Claudine,
      Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking message. This is a hard time to send our children out into the world, but I suppose parents have always felt that way. All we can do is the best we can, to teach our children to do a better job than we have taking care of our fragile planet, and to continue to speak out loud, as you have done, to make your concerns heard and understood.

      I am sending hugs through the blogosphere for you, and your family.

  36. Naomi, I love you take on aging. So wonderful and inspiring. I’m bookmarking this post to come back to. 🙂 Aw your mom looks adorable in the Egyptian mask.

    • Hi Kourtney,
      Thank you for your very generous response to this post. My mom was such a good sport! When I was in college, she gave me free rein to host a Renaissance costume dinner party at her house. She wore a long velvet robe, her pearls, and slapped a doily on her head. And she looked absolutely adorable then too. All my friends loved her.

  37. Your mom is an inspiration to us all. ” But my mom was always young at heart, brave and adventurous.” I agree, age is but a number, what matters is what we feel inside and how we choose to live our lives. I’m turning 42 when honestly I’m mentally 32. I do have to work harder now to stay healthier, loss weight and eat wisely but I do feel that I am more adventurous now and just wanting to enjoy life the most that I can with my family. A toast to the awesome years ahead!

    • You are still a young man, but I know from experience that when you get to a certain stage of life, you have to work harder to stay healthy. I need to do a better job of it, because we owe it to our loved ones and ourselves to be around long enough to meet and love our grandchildren the way we love our children.

      Age does affect people very differently. Some people grow fearful, and their lives become so narrow; they are afraid to go out, and don’t even open their blinds to let the sunlight in. But it makes other people more courageous, more willing to do what it takes to squeeze the best of life out of their remaining years. You are definitely one of those people! Bless you, and your family! You are demonstrating and instilling in them a love of this precious gift of life.

  38. My hair’s gone grey and I let it be but I’m still surprised when I see myself in the mirror, not so much for the grey hair but the beginnings of a crepey neck, slightly jowly look 😉 And when my daughter sends me a photo of me with her kids and says she really likes this one of me and all I see is a old(er) lady and think, “That’s a GOOD one of me?” – i smile, ‘cos it’s me, and that’s just the way it is and life is still good.

    • Dear Lynne,
      I could have been the one writing your comment. It is a bit of a shock, isn’t it? I love a story called My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, based on a Russian folk tale, and retold by Becky Reyher.
      It’s about a little girl who gets lost at harvest time. She is so distraught that all she can say through her tears is that her mother is the most beautiful woman in the world. The prettiest girls in the village are sent for to come claim their child. Finally the little girl sees a plump breathless woman with tiny eyes, a broad nose, and a mouth that is nearly toothless.
      They fall into each other’s arms, and the little girl cries, “This is my mother! I told you she is the most beautiful woman in the world!”
      Some see only with their eyes, others see with their hearts too. And aren’t we lucky that is so!

  39. Indeed we are!

  40. Your mom sounds terrific. She’s the kind of woman I want to be, too, as I age. And you know what? I get offered senior discounts occasionally and I’m in my 40’s! But if they offer, I take it!

    • Heck, yeah! I like the way you think!

  41. Hi Naomi,
    A funny and inspiring story. 🙂
    Thank you for the likes, but I hope you’ll pop over to my newer blog at http://www.tracycampbell.net/blog.

  42. […] Sharon Creeden has been my good friend for thirty years. […]

  43. great post Naomi 🙂 I’m another one who still feels 25 and gets a shock when I see this old lady in the mirror. I reckon we should ban mirrors 😉
    As for senior discounts – bring ’em on – about time I got something back.
    Jude (via Frizz’s A-Z)

  44. you made me smile, Naomi, with your ELDERLY PEOPLE sign and pantomime… – good that I’m singing BLUES and not soprano opera – so it doesn’t matter that I’m nearly aged 70.


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