Dear 88 Year Old, I Remember When You Were 40-something!
I’m so glad to see you! Although life is unpredictable in many ways, I’ve worked to prepare you for this moment. I want you to know that I enjoyed planning for you. Interestingly, it took me a minute to accept that you’d come to exist in a way that I’d want you, that I could understand you, that I could love you. Then, I realized that I was already becoming you and that I simply needed to make space for you. Now, you are my tried and true homegirl, and I’m rooting for you! Here’s
what I want for you!
I want you to feel like you are still living a full life, and I know you’re going to need money. I want retirement to be a choice. I want you to be able to give your time to causes that you love without having to charge, whether you charge or not.
I want you to be connected to a strong community, yet be independent. This means that you need to be strong, physically and emotionally and capable of continuously establishing and building new relationships. I want you to entertain and be doted upon. Although you don’t have kids, I want you to have a wonderful relationship with a young family that gives you access to kids. I want your 88 year old arms to hold a baby every now and then, and I want you to entertain deep conversations with 6 year olds sometimes.
I want you to finish those three books, and you’ve always known you can do it. I want you to make time to get it done. And maybe create a fourth one of your favorite recipes. No, the world does not need one more recipe book, but this is about you not them! Or maybe you could hand write them all and gift them to the 6 year old’s mama.
I want you to be an intellectual force to be reckoned with. This means that you need to read more history, pay attention to contemporary events, and engage more people whose perspectives are different from your own without doubling down on stubbornness in the way that causes many people to dismiss old people.
I want you to have a life that includes love and intimacy. While there may come a time when there will be life without sex, there will be no time without romance and intimacy, flirting and fun.
I want you to be stylish, spunky, witty, and confident. If you have to have a cane, I want it to be one-of-a-kind. I’m not sure if I want to buy you a mink (I LOOOVE Fur – PETA be damned), but I want one to be gifted to you. Somehow, it means more as a gift. You wear a different “favorite hat” everyday. I’m not sure you’re like Aunt Mae and still wearing heels at 90+ because at 40-something you don’t wear heels everyday. I do know that I don’t want you wearing orthopedic shoes.
I want you to be the celebrated old lady of the neighborhood. I want you to live your life so that your friends are young and old. I want people to check on you before and after snowstorms. I want you to have people who want to be snowed in at your house, and for you to tell them, “Come on” because you enjoy their company, not because you’re afraid. There will be as many young people at your funeral as age mates. I want them to mourn Ms. M, but I also want their memories and stories to be inspiring, funny, and provocative. I also want the folks who knew me reaaaaaaaaaaaaally well to huddle at my repast to compare notes because we had individual and group relationships. I want them to be trying to figure out my secrets, and say things like, “You know she’s gonna haunt us for this.” Since I can’t stop death, I want you to go to him sweetly.
Ms. M., I’m so glad that I stopped being afraid of you. I can’t wait to meet you!