Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Twilight Years Start Now

I turn 62 today. This is a milestone birthday: I’m now eligible for Social Security. I’ll get the first check in another two months. (I don’t know why SS makes people wait. Do they put us off in hopes we’re gonna croak soon so they won’t have to pay?)

I’ve gotten used to being a senior citizen: I get a discount at Kroger every Tuesday, a discount at Peebles the first Tuesday of every month, and another discount at Roses. Plus, discount coffee at McDonald’s and free coffee at Wendy’s. Now I’m eligible for a discount at the vet’s. I’ll have to find which days are senior citizen days and schedule my numerous pets (some of whom are also senior citizens) accordingly.

Turning 62, however, means I’m officially old. Not that I haven’t noticed. The crooks in my fingers that have made my handwriting illegible (Thank goodness for computers!), the aches and pains I never used to have, and the sags and bags and wrinkles have been pretty good tip-offs. Plus, that recent night at the hospital was a wake-up call.

One of my goals is to become more eccentric as I age. I think I’m achieving that nicely, thank you very much.

Another is to become more outspoken. Some who know me probably think I’m pretty well outspoken so as it is. Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet! The older I get, the lower my tolerance for stupidity and/or injustice. I can't rid the world of those two evils, but I can at least call attention to problems whenever I find them.

What were some of the best things I’ve achieved that made my life substantially better?

  • Going away to a large urban college (VCU back when it was still RPI) and getting a degree. Everyone should go away to college and live in a dorm. That in itself is a learning experience. Plus there’s all that good stuff in the classroom. . . .
  • Getting a master’s degree. Not only does having that degree in English give me more credibility in my writing, it earned me a pile more money when I was teaching. That degree paid for itself about twenty times over. A good investment!
  • Buying a horse. That changed my life in more positive ways than I can count. I’ve spent a pile of money on horses through the years, but I don’t regret a penny of it. (One of my childhood dreams was to have a horse. Took me 32 years to get the first one. My other childhood dream was to have a houseful of cats. Achieved that one, too.)
  • Buying land. They’re not making any more of it. Walking over my land is pure joy. Riding a horse over it, with a border collie running out front, is even better.
  • Being adopted by a border collie. Once you’ve owned a border collie, you can’t go back to regular dogs. I’m on my second one now.
  • Becoming computer literate. Wow! What a world computers opened!
  • And some other stuff.

Turning 62 means I know I won’t live forever. I already have my tombstone in the family cemetery. (Rhonda down at Add-A-Touch was running a special a couple of years ago, and getting a bargain was hard to resist. I knew I’d need one eventually. . . . The stone was set on December 14, 2005—the same day I bought Maggie.)

Turning 62 makes me realize that I won’t accomplish some things. I’m know I’m not going to be a best-selling author. I might not even have a book of my own commercially published. Odds are excellent that I’m not going to even make enough money at writing to challenge my social security payment. But I want to be a good writer. To that end, I’m still learning, still going to conferences, still taking an occasional workshop, still reading. . . .

And, I want to give back. I’ve been very lucky that people have helped me along the way, and I want to pay it forward. Using my English-teacher skills, I’ll continue to help up-and-coming writers. I usually mentor a few younger writers and will continue to do so. If I can also save a few writers from the numerous writing scams that exist, I’ll have done something worthwhile. I’ll still probably do a few “off-road adoptions”—the main way I’ve acquired my pets (other than Maggie and Dylan). I can’t save them all, but I’ve saved a dozen or so pets during the last few decades.

We’ll see what the future holds. Meanwhile, I’ll stick with Davy Crockett’s motto I learned (via Disney) when I was a kid: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

So far, I'm still going.



Blogger Amy Hanek said...

Never say never Becky! Great things happen when you least expect them.

You have a LOT to be thankful for! Now you can also be thankful for the checks in the mail!

6:46 AM  
Blogger Ibby said...

Happy Birthday to you! I would hope that Ida B. made you some kind of cake! 62 is not OLD anymore, kid! It is the new middle age. Keep on being yourself, and you will live to be at least 102 :)

2:44 PM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

I don't think 62 is old these days. But I can sympathize because my body feels old and I'm only in my 40s. My mind, however, hasn't figured out how old I am yet.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Marion said...

Hey, 62 is nothin' my dear. Those of us who passed that way a long time ago know it's merely a milestone on the road to that 90ish person who says, as my grandmother did, "I'm finally old enough to pinch young guys in the elevator & they don't get mad at me!"

9:29 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Becky! I didn't know it was your birthday! Happy birthday!

I guess you won't be moving a thousand bales of hay anymore, lol.

Aw, don't say you won't have a book commercially published. I bet you can provide links to a hundred people who got their first books out when they were senior citizens!

10:49 PM  

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