We all get older if we are lucky.  I was born at the end of the first half of the 20th Century—November 1949—and if I am lucky, I’ll be 71 shortly. I’m drawing pensions, social security, and on Medicare.  Some would say I’ve entered my golden years.

Politicians and fund managers tend to romanticize seniors who have entered their golden years.  They want to pander to your vote and make money managing your retirement funds.   They kowtow to the AARP lobby, and shoot commercials of seniors on cruises while big pharma advertises drugs that improve your memory and your sex life. They even promote long term care and prepaid cremation packages.  Ugh.

So, what’s so golden about the golden years?  Having lived through the 60s and beyond, I admit to a certain degree of satisfaction achieving this era of life.  At least in retirement I don’t have to get up to an alarm clock and fight commuter traffic. I’m free to do what I want, as long as I keep up with household chores.  But I also realize that I have more days behind me than in front of me, even if I make it to 100.  What the glorifiers of golden years don’t emphasize is the steady deterioration of function and memory that most experience.  Ugh.

Speaking of memories, I daydream a lot about past jobs and the people I knew during those eras.  What I am losing is remembering their names, particularly those who are duplicates.  Smiths.  Petersons.  Etc.  I conjure up scenes of meetings, encounters, people and places as well as triumphs and failures.  So many memories kind of fading.

I also remember those who have “passed”—family and friends.  I miss them all.  I try to focus on the good times, the good memories, but it is hard.  Every time someone I love dies a piece of me dies with them.  Someday—who knows when—I’ll be gone and there will be those who are left that miss me.  At least I think they will—not sure what part of me they’ll miss.

As I glide into my golden years, I must remember to be grateful.  Grateful, as a friend says, for all the “moments”.  The moments along hiking trails.  The moments of gatherings and meals with family and friends.  The moments of being together.  

As I write this, I am looking out my back window.  There is an overcast sky that is casting a golden patina on the snow in the back yard.  There are still a few golden leaves left on the aspen in the woods.  These are the golden years.

1 Comment

  1. A lovely synopsis of this time and place for seniors as ourselves. We are so fortunate and blessed to be in our respective situations with some semblance of good health, adequate resources, wonderful friendships. Surrounded by uncertainty and dire possibilities, we should be so fortunate to participate in this unfolding. Interesting times!

    Thanks for creating context for this moment. Amy Barrett may be more human/less dogmatic than we imagine? The poll results may answer all our hang-wringing and pessimism with light-hearted relief This grand experiment called the United States may revive….and eventually we will hang our face-masks on the coat-rack of memory.

    Meanwhile I am amazed by the brilliant sunlight pouring into my South-facing office window on this chilly Thursday morning. The leaves have fallen; the geese gather on the parkland that is known as the Park Strip of Anchorage…maybe two hundred of them….eating and shitting to their heart’s content as they anticipate the flight South.

    Meanwhile Jody and I are searching for an RV that will transport us to wonders and peoples that are miles from here. Perhaps I too will decide to leap into a more unstructured time and schedule?



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