I first read “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson about twelve years ago when I was in my mid 40’s….way before this blog and my body creaking as I tried to get out of bed…

When I read the book I thought it was a delightful read about some older people getting a second chance at a life.

I reread the book recently for book club. I enjoyed the book as much as I did the first time I read it. However, I was shocked to see that the elderly female character is supposed to be 58.

58

58

You can’t see my face, but a imagine a look of horror…

Guess which blogger is going to turn 58 in a few short months? This OLDER WOMAN in the book is actually supposed to be the same age as me…

They treat her like she’s feeble. They treat her like she’s ready for the pasture.

And while I get that this is what the author is trying to do, that she is trying to show that we can have a full life and love and fun at any age, that this was her intent, she made her character 58, because apparently there are those who think that 58 is old…

Do people really think 58 is old?

Am I old? Because if I am, I didn’t get the memo…

Do people think 58 is old?

Reading this book now, at this present stage of my life, I was a bit horrified to think that people think that others of this age have no life left in them… That people this age need to be coddled and told what to do. That people this age shouldn’t dance and wear fun clothes and flirt…

Just because I choose to wear sensible shoes doesn’t mean that I don’t still want to laugh and enjoy myself…I just don’t want my feet to hurt. Are you ready to put me out to pasture because I don’t want to limp around on stilts with pointy toes?

Maybe my idea of fun isn’t “young” fun. I’m probably not going to a three day outdoor concert in the rain…and maybe I’m not staying out all night at a club…but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for me to enjoy…

Just because our tastes and habits and activities are not longer the ones we had in the first half of our lives doesn’t mean that we are old. It just means we’ve found out things about ourselves and that we’ve adapted to the things we’ve discovered along the way. It means we’ve lived to tell a lot of tales…

I am 57. I am not old. I am me. And I’m pretty happy with that.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re old just because you need to scroll a bit to find your year of birth when you fill out an online form…

You are only as old as you allow yourself to be…

99 thoughts on “Last Stand?

  1. 58 is definitely not old by any stretch of the imagination. At least not now in the 21st century. I guess when life expectancy was shorter it may have been. I told my mom she could not call herself old until she turned 80. She lived to be 92 so was old for 12 years. My great aunt learned to swim at 79 and went to Australia and New Zealand (from Canada) for her 85th birthday! She danced at her 95th birthday party. You are in the prime of your life at 58 and NOT old.

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  2. I agree with most of the things you’ve said. I’ll be 60 soon and I don’t think I’m doddering. But this old/ young stuff honestly doesn’t bother me.
    I was addressed as mother in law at 25, grandmother at 28 ( through husband’s niece and nephew) and as Auntie right from 23, as a mark of respect.
    What troubles me is women at 70 or more getting upset/deliriously thrilled if they can’t/can get into the clothes they wore forty years ago.
    Why is Old only physical and negative? I’m happy with the way my brain and heart work now, happier than when I was forty. When I see some immature thirty year old, I feel good I’m older and mature.
    What does make me feel negatively old is the hundreds of politically correct/incorrect steps one needs to watch out for.
    Rambling much? Sorry.

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  3. I think that you can be “old” at any age. The only people that think 58 is old are those who are afraid that they, themselves will be old at that age. I am 61 and I am not old! I am still a young woman! lol

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  4. I remember getting the hints to label myself as old around 50. The gray hair (if not colored) would give hints I guess. Now I get the message I should be wearing polyester and by my next birthday (63) I will probably be told to use a walker. Ageism is real and sadly you are getting to join the club who experience it. I say Don’t Let Em Bring You Down Sister! Live like you’re 58 and proud of it-whatever that means for you.

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  5. These numbers drive me batty too. I don’t tend to get too hung up on youth and their looks and actions, but every so often I look back when I was that age (whatever that age was at the time) and wonder why I felt old then.

    Frankly, I like my 50s. I have much more awareness than I did when I was in my 30s and 40s…

    But it’s true, that society tends to look at the later 50s as ‘older’. I see pictures of people from decades ago who are in their 50s and they look really old…

    I also watched the Golden Girls, who were thought to be 60 give or take a few years in each direction, and certainly they look a lot older than we do…that was different time.

    You’re not old. And neither am I. AND, we don’t have to justify ourselves, or our age. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suggested to one of my friends an Eileen Fisher outfit….I thought she was going to kill me….she said but that’s for old people, and I was like, but you’re looking for something comfy but with style….I said the outfit doesn’t make you old the attitude does

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  6. Like yourself, I turn 58 in a couple of months. I used to think the 50’s was old when I was young and knew everything. Maybe once upon a time, 58 was “old” but the book was written in 2010… Anyway, there were 2 birthdays I was excited about. When I turned 20 because being a teenager was a horrible thing and 50 – a milestone accomplishment I was thrilled about.

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      1. Honestly I am not familiar with the book or author so I had to do a little research. She is not 30. She does or did live in Brooklyn you could stop by and ask her to elaborate.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nope. Considering my mom was 98 you could have half your life still ahead of you. (BTW, I believe she probably would have lived longer if her circumstances had been different but that’s just my opinion). At any rate, I’ve got 9 years on you and I’m not old.

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  8. I internet dated during my 50s, when forget being old, any woman in their 50s was invisible. I’m not bothered about being labelled old, so long as it’s by someone young(er). I do (and will most vociferously) object to being labelled old by a man who older than I am – sometimes by decades.

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    1. A very valid point. I’m now 72 but when I turned 50 I also started feeling invisible. I think we have put that to rest because so many dynamic women have emerged. But ageism, especially for women, is still a battle we must fight. In the 2016 election I heard many young people say they weren’t voting for HRC because she reminded them of their mother. Imagine that! Ageism for sure. Men are allowed to grow old but not women! I do feel that is rapidly changing However, But sadly ageism is real.

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  9. Isn’t I it funny how the word old is such an antiquated term? I wrote a blog a while back on this subject when I discovered that Angela Lansbury was only 60 when she filmed her Murder She Wrote series. I was In My 30’s in the 1980’s, so I assumed she was at least 80. Because her character was supposed to be elderly. Today, when those reruns come on I notice how slim and agile she was in those episodes. Why? Because she WASN’T old. In college I thought anyone over 30 was old. I was a divorced single mom by age 25 and so when I was 27, I was fixed up with a nice man who was 40 and I thought he was way too old for me. It’s laughable really how movies and television portray 60 as being old. But when we are young we have no accurate perception of age.
    Maybe this will help with age perception…
    As an elementary school teacher kids always asked me how old I was. I learned early on to play a game and we would tally up the ages. ( yeah, if they had the nerve to ask my age, I’d turn it into a math lesson).

    When I was in my 20’s I’d get guesses from my students that ranged from 16 to 100! And right before I retired at age 62, when they’d ask me the same question their answers remained much the same. 16, 25, 36, and there would always be some child who would say 100. (They wouldn’t even give me the benefit of 80 or 90! They’d go right to 100!) AGE IS RELATIVE. Especially if it’s from the perception of young people who know nothing about aging yet.

    I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s when EVERYONE looked old. Children dressed like little men and little women. Finally in the mid 1960’s styles became more youthful. But before then society had guidelines for age. Thankfully that no longer hold true. But as women, you were often criticized if you were over 40 and wore denim or a skirt above your knees. Fortunately, my contemporaries held on to our jeans and fashion became less matronly. (Whew!)

    Aging is inevitable and in America we tend to ignore people over 60. But I feel ageism stereotypes are finally lessening. I remember being told when I turned 40 that I’d have to cut my long hair. I refused and so did many of my “sisters “. In fact, I kept it long until two years ago when chemo forced me to re-evaluate hair length. But until age 70, I had a fabulous mane of hair! It grew back gray and much thinner, but I figure I had a good run. 70 years! That’s pretty great, right? Now I’m just happy to have some!

    LA 58 is not old. It isn’t 20, but who wants to go back to 20? I’d gladly gain some wisdom lines and silver streaks because the wisdom I’ve acquired over the years is worth everything. And at 20 I had so much more to learn.

    Any book, movie, or TV show that thinks 58 is old is completely out of touch with modern culture. It’s outdated, Aegist , and just WRONG!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree that it’s out of touch to consider 58 old. I know that at its heart this book was trying to explain that, but it still means people think 58 is old…I don’t like that thought

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  10. I haven’t read the book so I looked it up. It was published in 2010! But is it set in an era where 58 was considered old? I think getting old is all about attitude. I remember my best friend’s parents all of a sudden decided they were old and moved into a retirement community in their 50s! All of a sudden they quit hiking, going to the beach and doing all the things they had previously enjoyed.

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  11. I agree with most of the comments.Some of the answers to “Why do we think young is better?” are superficial and cosmetic. The ad industry tells us that we are deficient it we….(you fill in the blank). For me, young is better because at almost 70, I see and feel my body declining. I fight back, but there is no doubt that my body can’t do what it could when I was 30. Also, the medical industry fueled by Big Pharma wants to convince us that we are on the way down and supply us with drugs (with side effects) to counteract aging rather than provide us with counsel on good nutrition and appropriate exercise.. A side note–I resist the term “elderly.” I don’t know why, but it is one label I will not accept for myself.

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  12. No way is 58 old – [said the soon-to-be 58 yr old]. Now in my 20’s it was – because my parents were that age! All about perspective…

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  13. I once read a quote that went something along the lines of “Old age is always 15 years older than I am” (I don’t recall who said it, please don’t say it’s because of old age 😀 ). In an era where we (society) seems to adore youth, and wrinkles are photoshopped away on 30 year olds, I’d like to focus more on the way Helen Mirren portrayed her character on RED. Need more of that! 🙂

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  14. Any kind of “ism” is bad – sexism, racism, AGEISM. And we who are older than, say, 50, or 60, or 70, need to stand up for our wonderful enervating, fun, energetic, full-personality selves. I could never understand why my mother always lied about her age. When she was 50 she said she was 45, when she was 60 she said she was 50, when she was 70 she said she was 59, and each time people believed her. NOW, at the ripe age of …. way older than you …. I understand. People hear “60” and figure you’re over the hill and done for life. This is SO NOT TRUE. I got so annoyed when my mom, at 80, danced at weddings and sang out loud. “Awww, how cute,” people said. It wasn’t CUTE (patronizing), it was her wonderful personality! Oh boy, you got me on a roll. No, 58 is far far from “old.” It’s all in the attitude, anyway.

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    1. Completely agree! It’s the attitude!! It floored me to read this book again and realize, really take in, how old the character was supposed to be! We aren’t feeble or dim…we are smart and funny and know what we like. We should be cheered!!

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  15. Age is relative. I have a sibling who is just 50, but acts like she’s 80. I have a mom and MIL who are both in their mid-70’s but seem like they’re 40. That being said, ageism is alive and kicking, particularly in the book world. And for the record, I’ve been watching what my early-20’s children are going through and NO THANKS!!

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  16. Talking about this last night and again this morning in our house. We called wife’s brother yesterday to wish him happy birthday (he turned 59) I asked him how old he felt? “59”. Say what? but how old do you feel? “Well, maybe 58.” Do you know how old I “feel”? I said…currently, about 35.” He, replied, Yea, I remember when you first told me that joke, about being 28 w/ 30 years experience…” It’s not a joke, I said with a laugh. I really do feel 35. There are people I know who were “old” at 45 and people (my mom for example) who the calendar says are 88, but act like they are 1`6. How old do you “feel”? Love to know. 🙂 DM

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  17. When I read your post, I immediately thought of a recent event. I’m not sure if you heard, but during the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, people were trampled by police horses. One of those people was an “elderly” grandmother. The fact that she was elderly, and/or old, and/or a grandmother was often emphasized. Turns out she was only 49 (from what I read). WTF? Do people view me as “elderly”? I just turned 50. I certainly don’t feel elderly. I don’t think I look elderly. Ugh.

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  18. I remember a time when I thought my age of 53 was old. Now I realize how much life there is left to be lived and I’m nowhere near ready to be “put out to pasture.” LOL In fact, life kind of begins anew when you hit middle age.

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  19. I had the same reaction to the book: loved it, but thought that perhaps the character should have been at least 68 years old for they way they reacted to her….or 78! Age really is a relative thing. I once thought 50 was old. Now, at 63, I think 50 is young!

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  20. For sure, your perspective shifts the older you get. I’m 52 and certainly don’t feel old, though my kids say otherwise.

    All those AARP brochures don’t help matters. I toss them unopened in the trash every single time, ha.

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  21. I’ve heard 60 is the new 40? The weird thing is as I age I still feel much the same. I’m happy with this season in life, I’m still able to move, try new things, laugh until my stomach hurts. I like the perspective that age gives me and I appreciate the grit I’ve developed through the years! Like wine, we’re aging well! Hugs, C

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    1. I look at things differently than I did when I was younger…I’m more aware of what’s important to me. And I admit my flexibility is gone…but other than that I’m aok

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  22. I have The Summer Before The War by the same author sitting on my bookshelf. The cover art, I think, shows someone riding a bicycle which made me wonder about the time period it was set in. Maybe it’s just an English thing, given the author’s background and the setting for her first book. Anyway, now I want to read both of them!

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