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Adele R. Haas: Age determines your point of view

I had bronchitis recently, and spent a fair amount of time horizontally looking at things from the perspective of my eight decades, amusing myself by thinking about how your current age determines your point of view.

I thought about snow, and home remedies. This winter, we have been accumulating huge snow mounds with no intermittent thaws. We, of many Buffalo winters, tell our offspring tales of snow way above our heads when we were kids. Well, we were shorter then, and if you lived in the city where the houses were closer together, shoveled snow can only go up. So it was way above our heads.

My bronchitis was treated with antibiotics. But as a child, my home treatment was a slathering of Vicks VapoRub topped with an itchy wool scarf, and a nighttime concoction of lemon juice, honey and a shot of rock and rye from the special cupboard. Boy, you really knew you were sick when the rock and rye came out. The drink was served hot. I would woozily trundle back to bed, thinking being sick wasn’t all bad.

When filling out forms, there is often a space for your age. I write 82, but my inner voice tells me that I am the exception and surely no one believes I could be that number. When I buy beer for guests, I am asked to show my driver’s license. I always expect that the cashier (who looks to be 12) will be shocked that 1932 could be my real birth year. But she never does, and I leave, dejected.

Sometimes when I am checking out and the total comes to $18.12, I remark, “Oh, that is the year I was born.” Again, no reaction from yet another young cashier. I keep trying. Maybe I should stop. Except that I don’t.

My automatically renewed driver’s license has a 10-year-old picture that looks better than I do. Thank you, Department of Motor Vehicles.

I remember the last time I renewed my passport. I gasped when I saw the dreadful picture that accurately depicted my appearance at that time. Now, nine years later, I look at that photo and think, wow, that’s really not too bad.

I have been thinking about books I have reread and movies I have watched again. As a little girl, the first time I saw “Gone With The Wind” I remembered the beautiful, swirling ball gowns. Seeing it again in my 20s, I remembered the handsome Clark Gable.

My grandmother died at 56. In my 8-year-old mind, she was very old. Now I view 56 as a great age to enjoy an active, good life. As 2000 approached, the year I would be 68, I wondered from the time I could subtract, could I live to be that old?

At the 50th reunion of an alumna of my high school some years ago, I was impressed that a 67-year-old showed up. She was the only member of her class who did. This summer, I will celebrate the 65th anniversary of my graduation from Nardin Academy. We are blessed to know that about two-thirds of our class of 83 students will be available to celebrate our graduating year of 1950.

It has been a good life. I have been gifted with a longevity I had never dreamed of, and if I am lucky, some day, someone will be myopic enough to say, “Oh, but you couldn’t possibly be (insert here a complimentary lower age).”

Till then, I will keep hoping – as long as the DMV keeps the same picture.