Fan Dancers, ©2014 Jeane Vogel Studios
I row two to three days a week to try to be fit, I have a daughter who just graduated from high school, I have a mortgage I will never pay off…. I do not think of myself as old.
In China, women must retire at age 56; men at 60. That’s the definition of elderly. Sure, lives are harder here. But still, this age feel young.
My guide in Beijing was shocked to learn I was nearly 58. That’s old! Of course, he was also shocked to learn there were many poor people and homeless people in America… apparently, we all are rich! He didn’t believe that my family home is half the size of his family home. He was taught we all lived in mansions. But that’s another blog.
So, as a woman two years past retirement age, I should be dancing or doing exercises in the park, playing mahjong, caring for my grandchildren. I should not be working. Working is for the young.
I look at the women who are my age and they DO look old. They also look happy. I bow and smile and greet them. They bow and smile and greet me back. We are crones. Our children are raised. We can play. Our lives have been returned to us.
Crones know each other.
Younger people here are so rude to me, at least ones who do not know me. It’s not just me. It’s not personal. Push, yell, ignore.
The ones who have become friends are solicitous, making sure I find the step, hold an umbrella over me against the sun, pour more tea. The older women are kind, thoughtful, friendly. We don’t need a common language. We have one.
It’s an immediate sisterhood, this momentary connection we crones have. We know stuff. We know a lot of stuff. But if no one listens, we don’t care: we will fan dance in the park with others our age, knit on the bench together, play a game. Sing a song.
We don’t care. We are happy.