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“ARK”….. (Old-Age Redefined)

Posted on: July 9th, 2012 by bubbyjoysandoys 2 Comments

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

When I was growing up,  both my grandmothers lived nearby.  They were busy, active  and had set routines in their lives.  However, to me, they were —well, old.

In fact, at that time, I considered the elderly to be in one broad age bracket – 45 and up. Anyone above the age of 45 was “old” to me. Anyone above the age of 60, was “very old,” and anyone above the age of 70 was “ancient.” I don’t know when this self-created age chart  changed, but these days I don’t think any age is really old. I truly believe age is a state of mind, as cliche as that sounds. If someone is active at the age of 95 (and I know many who are extremely vital and active at that age), then to me they are not old…at least in the broad brushed sense that I perceived back in those childhood years of mine.

I’m in my 50’s now, and I like to think of myself as technically middle-aged but (quite) young. At this point in my life I define myself by my routine, my thoughts and my behaviors. I don’t think too much about age (okay, okay, that’s not so true)….but I try to keep busy. I think of my grandmother’s schedule and I want to emulate that sort of schedule.

Instead of “Empty-nest syndrome,” or “Middle age,” I  think of my stage of life as the After-Raising-Kids, or ARK Stage. A broad period of time from when our kids move out of the house and we move on to a fulfilled life.

My paternal grandmother, in her later part of her “after-raising-kids” stage, her  80’s and 90’s — took lessons in a variety of subjects. She studied art, Hebrew, crafts, and swimming. On Monday she took an Ulpan Hebrew language class. I recall the Hebrew newspapers she brought home with her so she can do the homework assignments. She would stop by our house on her way home from her class and show me her materials. On Tuesday, my Grandma went swimming. Then she did her shopping and got together with some friends for a Torah (Bible) class. At the end of her day, she stopped by our house and shared her day with us as well.

During this time, my Grandma was a widow. My Grandpa had died several years before that, but that didn’t stop my grandmother from keeping busy. She had her crafts class and “senior citizens” group on one day of the week, and worked as a secretary in an office on Fridays.

When I was raising my kids, my days were a blur of carpools, meals, shopping, cooking, going to the park with the kids, and errands. In between we squeezed in projects, exercise and some “time for Mommy” if we were organized. But basically, one day flowed into the other, and there was really no actual structure to our days. Even when I went out to work and school when my kids were in school all day, I didn’t find my days to have set routines “for Mommy.”

But thinking back to how my grandmother spent her days, I am realizing how valuable these after-raising-kids times are.  How special it is that I can have a routine. That I can have time to write, time to go swimming, play the harp, go to work, and do my exercise. Every day, every hour can and should be routine and scheduled.

That ARK age bracket does not have to mean doctors’ appointments — to fix those bunions on the feet at the podiatrist, the cataracts on the eyes at the ophthalmologist and the root canals on the teeth at the dentist (and more…)

Yes, the ARK age period can be peppered with predictability, and  productive hobbies. Routine and enjoyment.

Not that I don’t want to have the non-scheduled, laid back time with my husband — (ya, he’s in the picture too!) – perhaps a trip to Israel, or a trip to Alaska or Hawaii where the days whiz lazily by with zero structure and total relaxation. Or not that I don’t have those unstructured days where things are chaotic and loosy-goosy — without following a routine.

But still, knowing that I can fall back on a routine — as my grandmother did in her old age —- makes me feel very safe, complete and fulfilled – during this wonderful ARK stage.


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2 Responses

  1. beccakinla says:

    So true! When I was little, my grandmothers seemed old. Not frail, but old. They had white hair. They didn’t exercise much. They did “old people” things like play cards or mah johngg or tell stories about WWII (they both we active on the home front).

    Now almost half my friends are grandmothers. They take yoga, take power walks, have less (visible) white hair than me. They whip out their smartphones and start blogs.

    Makes me look forward to being a grandma.

    If I can just get my kids out of elementary school… 🙂

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