Aging.

Robyne Stevenson
3 min readDec 4, 2023

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On general thwarting and confusion

jigsaw puzzle pieces in a pile
Photo by hami wali on Unsplash

You’ve heard it a million times — you’ll get forgetful when you get older. I’m older and indeed, I forget things. It’s frustrating to see an actor or hear a song and say — Oh, it’s that guy in that movie. My brother does that to me all the time. I tell him I need just a bit more information to guess who he’s trying to remember. It’s happening to me now. This has become the new normal.

The other day I couldn’t figure out how to get a multi-step project completed. Should I do this first? Can I work around this limitation? Why isn’t this easier? Then I put it aside and said I would do it later. I realized in that moment that this is not procrastination. This is frustration that my brain isn’t sequencing as fast as it used to. It’s depressing.

Aging brings with it a general thwarting and confusion! When people compliment an elderly person by saying they are “sharp as a tack,” it implies that “their mind isn’t mush.”

My dad died of Alzheimer’s. I’m aware of the symptoms and the tragedy. I try to notice when my brain is not functioning optimally. I’m assuming that general thwarting and confusion on multi-step tasks is part of getting older. I haven’t yet forgotten what the refrigerator does or gotten paranoid.

Elderly hand raised in stop motion showing lines in skin
Photo by Sai Balaji Varma Gadhiraju on Unsplash

Being challenged by a multi-step project may be no more than dithering. That’s a word that isn’t used much anymore. I’m a Gemini. Most people attribute my dithering to my astrological sign.

Feeling thwarted and confused by obstacles and the puzzle pieces of a multi-step project is normal. As I get older, I allow those feelings to convince me I am failing and inadequate. That’s what aging does.

People are treating me differently as I get older. They are not only deferential but condescending. They assume I need help. I appreciate that offer because sometimes I need help. But over time, I started to feel that I needed help before anyone offered it. I assume it’s coming. Therefore, I need help. It’s a slippery slope. The condescension comes when they put on their super-sweet voice and call me hon or dear. Ugh. It reinforces that I am old in the eyes of younger people.

Of course, I am old in the eyes of younger people. That doesn’t mean I enjoy being noticed in that way. There is no status in our society of getting older. We become an infirm person who is a burden. A person who needs help. A pain. I have lots of aches and pains. No one wants to be that for another person.

Aging is a bit of a cruel trick. People ooh and ahh at your age but secretly they are grateful it’s not them. Once you get here, you don’t want to be this age either, but the alternative is worse. My mother used to say that. Now I say it. It’s the cruel trick of aging.

I’ll carry on because I’m not done. Not nearly done. I’ll take what the world dishes out. I’ll tackle the thwarting and confusion and get the job done, even if it takes far longer than it used to. I’ll smile at the people who want to be helpful to this old lady. I know they secretly fear what’s coming. You should fear it. Getting old is not for the faint of heart. It takes something to keep going.

I finished that project after much consternation on my part. I Googled to see if Mercury was in retrograde. That’s how thwarted I was. Sadly, Mercury was not in retrograde. I had to assume all responsibility. Rats.

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Robyne Stevenson

I travel the country in my Airstream meeting people and enjoying life. I’m a writer. I was a Professor of Politics. Things change.