“Getting old,” my 83 year-old neighbor once assured me, “is hell.”
Though I’m less than half her age, I’m beginning to see her point. A click in the knee after too many stairs, a crick in the back after a morning of gardening . . . All these things are catching up with me. Are they catching up with you, too?
The way I figure it, everybody gets old and nobody likes it. Sure, with age comes wisdom, but wisdom can be hard to spot when you look in the mirror or have to tote the laundry down to the basement. And it doesn’t matter how many years you actually have on you. At the relatively young age of twenty-six, weren’t you already complaining how you couldn’t eat a plate of Grandma’s pasta without going to the gym the next day?
If my father-in-law describes himself as old, that description might be accurate. A career military man who signed up for service before World War II, he’s in his nineties, now. And life is taking its toll. We go to visit him often and when we do, we take him out for ice cream, or to count ducks from his deck. We also be sure to play lots of Big Band music when we’re gathered in the living room. After all, Big Band was the soundtrack of his youth.
Recently, while Jo Stafford’s lilting voice sang about love and happiness over soaring strings and peppy horns, I turned to my father-in-law. I said, “I heard that soldiers, airmen, and sailors loved Jo Stafford’s songs so much, you boys called her GI Jo. Is that true?”
Like Atlas, he shrugged and I could see all the cares of old age weighing on his shoulders. “I guess.”
“Did you like her?”
When I asked that question, an amazing thing happened. My father-in-law’s spine straightened. His eye brightened. Again, he said, “I guess.”
But this time, he let loose with a twenty-year-old’s mischievous chuckle—and in that moment, he was young again.
Many things can put us in touch with our younger selves. Particular music, certain movies, and of course our favorite books can turn back time in a heartbeat. But I think the bottom line here is that our younger selves haven’t left us. We’re still young in our hearts and minds no matter how much we age. And if we want to feel young again, maybe all we need to do is remember that—and listen to a little Jo Stafford.
Now it’s your turn to tell the Rockville 8. No matter your age, what makes you feel young again?
Monday, September 10, 2012
Posted by Nichole Christoff
Nichole Christoff is a writer, broadcaster, and military spouse who's worked on-air and behind-the-scenes writing, editing, producing, and promoting content for radio, television, and the PR industry across the United States and Canada. Her latest thriller from Random House Alibi is THE KILL BOX and it's a Library Journal "Best Books 2015: E-Original pick." Nichole's fiction has won both the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart and the Helen McCloy-Mystery Writers of America Scholarship. She has been shortlisted for a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, too. She loves nothing more than getting lost in a good book . . . unless it would be trying to write one!