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Wednesday, 2 March 2022

University of 3rd AgeGrowing Old Disgracefully

Speaker: Linda Sawley

The guest speaker at Todmorden u3a's monthly meeting in February was Linda Sawley, who presented 'Growing Old Disgracefully' - A Guide to the Golden Years.

Linda once worked for the NHS, and was asked 'Sister – are you old?' Linda, only in her thirties, said that no she wasn't old but why did they ask? The answer was because of the 'grey bits' in her hair. Linda admitted that this affected her to the extent of removing her recent, and very expensive, blonde highlights soon afterwards.

Another time, while working at a school, Linda asked her junior class what they thought made a person old. One of the boys told the rest of the class that they could tell that Mrs Sawley was old because of all her wrinkles – six out of the ten children included this in their answers, others being 'older than us', 'people with grandchildren' and, quite perceptively, 'people who shake'. Another answer was 'people who've shrunk'. And we do, because of the years of the pressure on the discs in our spinal column which turns the strong, bouncy stuff we start off with into flattened discs, which make the column shrink and we lose height. Linda suggested that what we lose from our spines over the years subsequently turns into our 'spare tyres'.

Out walking, Linda asked a friend what she thought the age for being old was. The swift reply was 'anyone a day older than me'. Linda has assigned herself a permanent age of 'forty several' because, she says, you never have to change it, and you can be 'forty several' for the rest of your life.

Milestones are a part of growing older – having to wear glasses, retiring from work, receiving our pensions, along with the birth of grandchildren – even great grandchildren. Linda and her husband had to cancel a planned weekend to mark their golden wedding anniversary as it fell a couple of months into the covid epidemic. The date would never happen again, a similar story perhaps for several of the audience – and some of our lady members might have empathised, when Linda told us of her anniversary gift in lieu – a new vacuum cleaner.

Not that we need them, but other reminders of old age are our physical abilities and ailments. Linda mentioned another man in life: Arthur Itis. Along with other conditions, plus gradual slowing down and more effort required to do things that once were easy. This is even more frustrating as, in most cases, we don't feel or think, any 'older'.

Life expectancy has increased, and we hear that sixty is the new forty, and similar encouraging messages.

Linda's grandmother never used to run anywhere, rarely walked, but still suffered from swollen feet, and had a 'Marcel Wave' hairdo. Nothing like the 80 year old lady who recently walked on some of the Great Wall of China, another who went up in a hot air balloon on her 90th birthday, and yet another who taught music up to the age of ninety seven and a half, and managed to get to 100 years old. These people were nothing like the definitions in dictionaries and thesauruses, which include ancient, antiquated, decrepit, doddering and many others just as flattering.

Towards the end of her talk, Linda discussed the advantages of being an older person – yes there are some. No need to run for anything, nothing left to learn the hard way plus some tips – only have cheerful friends, keep learning and remembering that 'the only person with you for all of your life is you'.

Forty-five minutes of jokes, advice, pertinent observations and a singalong were enjoyed by the members who attended our meeting.

Not yet a member? You can attend one talk free by requesting an invitation to this zoom event. We're always delighted to welcome new members. Contact details: website at www.u3atod.org.uk or email at info@u3atod.org.uk.

Many thanks to Colin Sanson for this report


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