Perennials-that-love-shadeElder, senior, aging, older, old. I want to be honest about where I am in life. I am, unapologetically, 73 years old. But I don’t really identify with any of these words.

“Elder” implies entitlement to authority and status that I may or may not have. “Senior” is a euphemism for “old” and I don’t go for euphemisms. I’m certainly “aging”–but isn’t everybody? And “old” is how I feel sometimes but I’ve tried calling myself old and it makes me–and others–uncomfortable.

Language matters, as Laura Carstensen writes in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, “In Search of a Word that Won’t Offend ‘Old’ People.” Continue reading

Calling Grandmothers

One of the first things I decided to do after the 2016 election was to stop coloring my hair. In the months that followed, the light brown I’d adopted for the past 20 years, something close to the color I was born with, gave way to snowy white. I am delighted with my new look, the result of genes inherited from my white-haired father and grandparents.

I told friends that I’d been waiting to stop coloring my hair till I was pretty sure it was growing out all white rather than gray. But there were deeper reasons for choosing to go white at that particular time, even though I couldn’t articulate them at first. Continue reading