SHE CALLED ME “DEAR”
The mall was bustling. In past years, during the week before Christmas, my self-preservation dictated that I had to avoid malls, stores, or any shopping. I make certain every detail is covered by the end of November. This was my survival tactic devised twenty or so years ago when the seasonal chores and expectations turned me into an unpredictable maniac with nerve endings wound up tighter than a drum.
But, for some reason, I was enjoying the mall today. I wound my way through the last-minute shoppers, enjoying the hustle and bustle, appreciating the festive decor and even the Santa section. A few children waited their turn, some little ones with apprehension showing on their wee faces, while Moms looked proud and eager – a visible dichotomy.
I felt myself apart from everyone there, an observer, calm and content. I was enjoying myself. I had no need to feel rushed and tense – my shopping was done. I had only come to pick up a Roots sweater that had been ordered-in for me. After completing my transaction, the young woman behind the counter voiced her perfectly cheerful thank you and good-bye, but it wasn’t until I was out of the store that her post script registered. She called me ‘Dear’. She called me ‘Dear’.
My Gawd, that is how, as a caring young nurse, I used to address elderly, bedridden patients. That young sales woman obviously saw me as an elderly customer. I am 68, definitely beginning to show my years (especially after going off HRT a few years ago). But I thought my longish hair with its light, natural curl and sweeping waves kept me looking slightly current, if not younger. And what about the new proclamations that 60 is the new 40? Then surely, 68 ought to be the new 50 – at the very least, not ‘dear’ territory!
I have thought about that minuscule incident, several times since. It was perfectly endearing (pun intended), but it goes on record as one of my life’s ‘light bulb moments’ … like when I turned 65. I didn’t feel old, but the Government of Canada told me I was old when it began automatically depositing my ‘Old Age Security‘ benefits into my bank account. That made it very official. I became old.
Fighting off the stigma of aging becomes just one more battle to undertake. My battlefield lately is technology. I am fighting to stay current. I want to be a part of the incredible and ever-changing technological advances that are common place to my grandchildren. So, I cart my iPhone 4, my Kobo e-reader, my iPad 2, from desk, to chair, to purse, to bedside. Occasionally I sync each of them to my Mac Book Pro laptop, though with I Cloud, that procedure is becoming obsolete. I listen to my favourite music on my iPod which sits in its tiny, circular docking station and fills the room with concert-quality sound.
Ironically, that iPod is one of the original ones from the early to mid-1990’s. Greg, my husband, on one of his business trips, brought it for me from the U.S. At that time these new wonders were not even available in Canadian stores. I was entranced. Guess I can attribute my current techie phase to Greg. Little did he realize at the time what he has spawned.
Last month I took that original iPod into the Apple store.
The young salesman handled it in wonder and called some of his associates to “Come and look at this.” It was as though they were looking at a rare antique.
I do not like to have TV in my bedroom – oh no. Reading is the only permissible entertainment in my bed (wow there is another story!) – or rather, it was, until I acquired my fascinating iPad. Now I lie in bed, lights off, while the back-lit screen allows me to write this story, or read an e-book, or luxuriate in the blissful act of watching a movie on my amazingly clear, iPad screen. Really, the clarity enables you to feel as though you are right in the scene with the characters. ‘Bridesmaids’ amused me until my eyelids quivered with a need for sleep … uh huh, at 2AM.
Technology really has me hooked in other ways too. I have a huge database of genealogy information – 5000 + names in ten generations of my family and my husbands. I have included stories, photos, documents, all of which, over the past 10 years, I have compiled into four volumes. I have never used the much-touted ancestry.com for research. A decade ago it seemed too rambling and without sources, but with my newly purchased ‘Family Tree Maker‘ for Mac, I was automatically a member of ancestry.com. So, I was entering fresh data, names, birth dates, places of birth, death etc., on my children, myself and our ancestors – none of the stories and personal letters and notes – “Just the facts, mam, just the facts.” I realized that having the family trees online meant that my information would live there forever – accessable to future generations of our families. Not the case with the 320 hard cover books I published.
Recently, an email popped up in my inbox from a 48-year-old man in Perth Scotland who saw some of our common ancestors online in the new information I had entered. That is when I realized that all my recent entries were actually on ancestry.com, not simply in my software. Now I am communicating with Scott, sending and receiving photos of our g-g-g-grandparents in 1880. We really are family.
I realized too, that my ‘info’ was automatically unfolding into a family tree chart. I could click on any person in the tree and create that person’s personal tree. Exciting. I saw potential for my children and theirs. This was a living tree. If I made each of them ‘contributors’, then they each would be able to add leaves and branches, as new events and new generations evolved, ad infinitum. Now that is serious sh..!
As a result, I have added photos of us, and our ancestors, non-stop, a bit obsessively in fact, until 2 and once even 4 AM. This is painful at my age. But I now realize that, as well as my four genealogy volumes, I will be leaving my progeny a tangible, everlasting legacy, online. Amazing!
All this is to explain that I really am trying to stay on top of technology (the fun bits anyway) and ward off the inevitable death stalker.
Life is so fascinating. I love, that with the touch of a screen, I am able to turn a page in the book I am reading, take a photo, watch a movie, keep in touch with my family, write my thoughts and short stories, or visit my dream travel destinations, Cinque Terre and Santorino.
Does this sound like the veritable ‘little old lady’? I have friends that refuse to drive on the hectic 401. One acquaintance refuses to embrace e-mail. I refuse to allow myself to slip easily into old age.