“That depends on where,” said my mother, ever wary of being roped into doing something she doesn’t want to do.
It was Bingo Night at the Senior Center.
I laughed out loud when my mother relayed the news of this invitation. There’s probably nothing my mother would like to do less. Try out the latest trendy restaurant, maybe. Watch the newest action flick complete with lots of cussing and gory violence, sure. Or perhaps, head downtown for a concert. But not bingo. And not the Senior Center. See, my mom is an Age Defier.
The couple across the street are lovely. But they’re more typical. She cooks and bakes, he eats. She wears housedresses, he has house slippers. They delight in their grandchildren and go square dancing at least once a month. And did I mention? They’re younger than my mom.
I’m sure it’s because I’m getting older myself, but I see Age Defiers everywhere. I have a friend, 70, who rides horses, cycles long distances and helps build houses for Habitat for Humanity. There are two men I run into regularly on their bikes when I’m out walking Frankie. They’re both approaching 80. Another 78 year-old woman I know crossed the street to greet me in her workout shorts and sports bra. And she looked good! I’d rather be caught dead than in anything sleeveless. And let’s not forget the wonderful women of my writing group. I’m the baby there at 42. The most seasoned member is 80 and recently published her novel.
I come from a long line of Age Defiers. It’s as if, being native Floridians (or in my grandmother’s case, having lived here long enough she might as well be,) they’ve found the Fountain of Youth. My father still rides an ATV on the beach during summer mornings counting sea turtle nests like some kind of young park ranger. My 93 year-old grandmother rides a tricycle on a wooded trail two miles every day. I don’t even log two miles a day in my power chair.
I missed the age defying gene. In fact, time can’t seem to go by quick enough for me. I act well beyond my middle-aged years. I utter the phrase “Lord have mercy” on a regular basis. I often turn down the music in my mom’s car. And I once yelled at kids to stop playing in my yard when I was 31.
Stephen King must be an Age Advancer like me. My mom is reading his new behemoth-sized, 1000+ page novel, Under the Dome. In it, he describes an “elderly” character who just turned 70. He himself is in his 60’s! By his own standards, he’s about to become elderly.
Even if I do act older in my mannerisms, I like the idea of defying stereotypes. When my dad informed me I was middle-aged at 36, I told him he was mistaken, I was young. I’m willing to admit to being middle-aged now, but I’m sure it lasts till I’m 60. And when I’m 70 for God’s sake, I’ll be a senior, not elderly. Even if I do like to play bingo (and I do.) Besides, housedresses just make good sense in the wheelchair.