Elderhood

I was parsing out some advice to a friend a couple of days ago who then commented “Why do you always have just the right answer, Raivenne?”. Of course me, being me gave her a sarcastic and completely narcissistic, but humorous reply at the time, but it set me to thinking. It was not the first time I unintentionally found myself in the role of wizened advisor as of late and had a similar comment made regarding it.  It made me wonder were my advisors, when I have questions?

I lost one set of grandparents before I was born. I lost the other set by my mid-twenties. I have no siblings. Other than my sons, I am estranged from everyone I am related to by blood by mutual apathy. My family is the one  created from marriage and from those whose lives have intertwined with mine over the decades. Even so, my personal family is small and at this stage of my life, pretty much without elders.

Some things are irreplaceable. Recipes I never had a chance to learn, childhood pictures and family stories forever lost. Apologies that never had to chance to be given or perhaps received.

It started hitting home one day when a group of us peers were sitting around the dining room and realized we were now the ages of our parents, aunts, uncles et cetera when many of us met and become the tight-knit group we were. We are now the elders.  Back then, none of us in our early thirties to early forties lives, were ready to embrace that title. Now at fifty and one of the youngest of that core group, and having already lost a few of them -including my husband- there’s no denying it.

When my husband died, the few elders I had loved, trusted, would turn to for advice were no longer among us. Luckily among my peers in real life and one or two from the Internet a wellspring of information and inspiration was found and I happily get by and for the most part thrive on it.

Mine is an interesting sort of elder-hood at this moment. I have no grandchildren, no nieces or nephews. No immediate young family to look up me with their expectant eyes while I bake pies and look oh so wise over my bi-focal glasses. My late-husband and I somehow raised two very self-contained men who at this point in their lives are even less ready to see me as crone than I am. Most of my motherly advice, worldly wisdom -such as it’s not- goes to my younger peers. The twenties and thirties among my friends who are where I once stood 20 -30 years ago. And you know what?-that works for me.

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14 thoughts on “Elderhood

  1. I can relate. Though often I’m asked for advice from people around my own age or even much older. I have to laugh, as my own life is not where I want it to be, and yet, people seem to ask me a lot. On another note, it’s trippy how the snow follows the cursor. 🙂

  2. Yeah – the ‘snow’ made me think I was seeing things…
    Being the ‘elder’ hit me when my cousin, my brother & wife, my daughter & her family were home after my mother died (Dad died a few years earlier). My cousin tossed out the comment, “You’re the matriarch now.” and I panicked. “I’m too young!” I protested. “I’m too inexperienced!” I claimed. “I don’t know the family stories!” I continued.
    My best friends are all at least 10-20 years older – I want to be like them. I am ‘the baby’ of the group. I like that sometimes, but I keep looking over my shoulder for who might be coming up…

  3. I can relate to your post. I find most of my sage and wise advise goes to my grad students, to my young-un colleagues, or to my nieces and nephews whose parents have passed on. My own children are not ready for elders – yet….I pray that their cousins will fill in the gap when the time comes. The structures of families are intricate and changing….as so many delay or chose to not have families.

  4. I like how you told your story. There’s sadness but you finish with a positive note.
    Sometimes life doesn’t give choices. It takes resilience and wisdom to find your ground and stand strong. I don’t think that age is necessarily the most important factor. There are some immature adults and some wise young people who can be trusted and turned to when in need.

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