A Rite of Passage: AARP

Well, it finally happened to me. I was opening my mail—feeling fit as a fiddle—listening to really cool new music—when I saw it. MY FIRST MAILING FROM AARP! Ack!

I know for a fact (since I heard someone from AARP say it in a meeting not even a month ago) that AARP doesn’t want to be known as the Association for the Advancement of Retired People anymore. After all, who can afford to retire these days? But there is no question that getting a mailing from AARP means something very specific: I AM GETTING OLD. I am getting to “that age.” The age of no return.

I should have seen the signs. Last year it was the granny glasses, which are kind of cute but make me feel like Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show—especially when I put on my farm country kitchen apron. Then, this year I started buying that blue shampoo because, let’s face it, us grey-haired ladies need a little help keeping the grey looking fresh. My very cool hair stylist in New York recommended it. He uses it too. His hair is silver. Are we really that old?


I don’t feel that old. I can do a handstand in yoga. I listen to new music like Bon Iver, Band of Horses, and the Avett Brothers. And my memory was always bad.

But I don’t want to be one of those people (like my mother) who refuse to admit they are getting old. Woe to anyone who called her a “senior,” and her hair NEVER turned grey. It just went from one shade of brown to another, mysteriously, overnight. I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind getting older. But now that it’s staring me in the face, it’s a different story.

Opening the mailing was a bit of relief. Turns out it was really just an offer to subscribe to the AARP magazine. I know the editor, Hugh Delehanty. He’s a good guy. He’s cool. He’s got grey hair too, but he’s from that Beatles generation. He’s a boomer. I am on the cusp, half boomer and half Gen X. That means I really don’t care for the Beatles, but I love Johnny Cash.

Well, I’m not going to subscribe today. I’m only 48, after all. And I still feel full of life, and lush, like one of those late roses of summer. I’ll enjoy it while I can.

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10 Responses to A Rite of Passage: AARP

  1. Peter September 7, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    When I was whining about turning one age or another, my mom (now 87) brought me up short. She said that there are great (and not-so-great) things about every age in your life, and the key is to enjoy and concentrate on the things that are specific and wonderful about the age you are, not the age you wish you were, or once were. Or never were, in fact. Thanks, Mom.

    And what do you mean you don’t care for the Beatles?

  2. Sue September 7, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Well, when you do reach the AARP magic age, a plus is that their magazine is great!

  3. Donna in Delaware September 7, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    It’s not so bad, getting to that age. In fact, it really is uneventful for the most part, and it depends on the individual and how they feel about aging and how they handle it. Some people just flat out refuse to think about it, others become extremely depressed. It is those individuals that face aging bravely (you can’t be young forever, except in mind and spirit) and that accept it as an important part of life. We move on in age and we have to move on accordingly in our ways of thinking and dealing with it.

    A friend of mine who shall remain nameless, thought that turning 40 was practically the end of her life. She made herself sick about it. I listened to her and when I turned 40, about 2 years later, I was wondering what the big deal was, except I lived to get that age when a lot of my friends, acquaintances and even some of their kids had passed on. That fact made me realize just how blessed I was to reach 40 without incident and still had my health and family intact. When I turned 50, I felt even more blessed because more people my age had passed away with whom I was friendly or grew up with. Now that I am a little past 50, I feel great, look great (or so I’m told) and try to live a great life, taking care of myself and those closest to me. I am indeed blessed, and MARIA, SO ARE YOU! It’s a number. How you live and what you do with and in your life is all that matters. Sorry, didn’t mean to get long-winded.

  4. cathy lee September 7, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Ha! also! I interrupted my read of this post to do a couple of small mending projects before throwing those items into the laundry. Smugly I was congratulating myself on NOT needing the ‘threading the needle’ tool as I prepared to mend. (Even though I do have an eye appointment with my optometrist tomorrow and expect to get new, stronger! lenses.)
    Thank you all for your words of encouragement and perspective. It is all about using what you have and appreciating what you have. As we say to our children (!) “Attitude is everything.”

  5. Lorna September 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Shortly after receiving my AARP card I was traveling. Began the checkin process at a hotel and low and behold, the desk clerk (should be given araise) said I am sure you do not qualify but, if you are an AARP member we can offer a 15% discount on your room. I whipped my card out and said proudly here it is. Thank you for reminding me of my discount and you are very talented at customer service. She did so graciously make me feel” Not so Old”…Now I use it everywhere, I earned each and everyone of these gray hairs. I am just grateful to be here, the alternative is so permanent…

  6. alice September 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Woah, I am reaching for 50, I am 46. Kind of mind bending because I don’t feel as though I am. Slowly though my body tells me so. My mother turns 70 this year in November. When she turned 50, she would say, “the only thing about getting older, is I get tired”. At 40, I consciously made changes to my diet. No longer could eat like a billy goat. All I want is to age gracefully, my mother has and hope I can share in that blessing. God bless our Senior Citizens!!!

  7. DJ in PA September 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. AARP. I am strictly mercenary about them. I’ll take the discounts if they aren’t for Early Bird Specials at the IHOP or for products hawked on the tube by the likes of Pat Boone or Robert Wagner. Got my Official AARP Card FREE with no obligation in the mail the other day–but it doesn’t actually work unless I sign up and mail them dues. Which defeats the purpose of the concept of “free”, no obligation or discounts which may or may not cover my dues. Whatever. I turn 50 this coming Wednesday. I don’t have many wrinkles but I am acquiring the attitudes of Maxine in a right quick hurry. Hallelujah! Been waiting for years to get a free pass on copping an attitude! I’ve spent a lifetime getting patronized (the downside of being very short and very naturally blond so people talk to you like you are 12) so being able to play the geezer card is fine-n-dandy by me.

    Last fall my dear other half and took a trip to Santa Fe. The gray headed lady behind the car rental counter wanted to know if my husband wanted to add me as an additional driver and then turned to me and asked “Are you over 25?” She was dead serious. That woman didn’t make my day but my entire decade. She is utterly wasting her talent–or capacity for deadpan BS–at Hertz. She needs to be in sales or public life–or needs new glasses. I was tempted to start calling my husband who is 16 months my senior “Pops” but I mustered every last fiber of maturity in my being and refrained which utterly exhausted me. So I popped a Geritol and felt much better. Attitude? Yeah, baby, and I plan to WORK it. Old chicks rule.

  8. Ann Halcomb September 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I HAD an AARP Motor Plan but cancelled out knowing they pushed for this radical health care plan. They are FORCING us to buy health care or they will put us in jail. Boy. our country has come a long way hasn’t it!!

  9. Anjeanette September 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Handstand pose can be scary and I definitely paid the price of trying it before I was ready. I saw Leeann Carey’s free yoga video with pointers on handstand that really helped & now I can do the handstand pose! I thought your readers might want to check it out: http://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free-yoga-video-adho-mukha-vrksasana-downward-facing-tree-pose-handstand/

  10. Raynoch June 22, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    All of my questions setletd—thanks!

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