Contributed by Hillary Saffran
“When I turn 85, I want to go skydiving!” Phillis smiled broadly as she shared this with the group of ladies wearing their red hats during a festive luncheon at Robin’s house last Saturday afternoon.
Sally had just shared memories of her surprise 50th birthday party, and her skydiving experience at least 10 years after that. The other ladies shared how they would also like to go skydiving someday, and then the discussion turned to a hot air balloon ride. I shared about my love of ziplining, and comparisons were made about the different ziplines offered here in Alaska, asking which was better – Talkeetna or Seward? I thought about my adventure a few years ago hiking on Matanuska Glacier, and all of the ladies discussed their adventures and zest for life.
I remarked how older people these days are so much younger than when I was as a child, and everyone agreed. These ladies demonstrate this notion in many ways.
Our particular group, the Red Hat Hooters, (I know – the name is a hoot in itself) ranges in ages from 60-93. I was told that I am the baby of the group. How flattering is that – especially since turning 60 freaked me out a bit. Sixty sounds eighteen years older than fifty-eight in my book!
On my memorable birthday, my coworkers decided to have some fun in my office. An inflatable walker was purchased, along with age jokes posted all over my desk, walls and computer:
“At 60 years old, your birthday suit requires regular ironing.” “Your birthday reminds me of the old Chinese scholar, Yung No Mo.” “I’m not 60, I’m only 59.95 plus tax.” “With age come skills. It’s called multitasking. I can laugh, cough, sneeze and pee all at the same time.” “Happy 60th birthday! Sorry you’re too old to have a mid-life crisis.” “A 60 year old goes to see a matchmaker. One of her criteria is a man with regular bowel movements. The matchmaker asks, ‘Does it matter if it’s voluntary?’”
We often associate aging with slowing down, having more physical limitations and such. It seems to me that this is not the case of many older folks in our society at large. Jane Soeten is now 90, and has been a gold medalist in the Senior Olympics while still competing at 88. I haven’t contacted her yet to see if she is competing again this year.
Georgie Hollander is 76 years young, and still head of The Borealis Dancers, a group of ladies of all ages that dance all over the Mat-Su Valley, especially every summer on the Colony Stage at the Alaska State Fair. Georgie and her husband Jim, who is 74 (Georgie loves to call herself a cougar), canoe and camp for 10 days every summer approximately 200 miles on the Yukon River from Dawson to Circle. They also snow machine, cross country ski, fish and Jim is an experienced hunter. They enjoy dancing Saturday nights at the Anchorage 35-Plus Club, where they met. Many of the weekly dancers are 60-80, as they two-step gracefully in their advancing years.
I’ve enjoyed Contra dancing in Palmer, where many of the dancers are also past 50, as well as the bluegrass groups that play fiddle, bass, mandolin, guitar and such. The live music is a wonderful treat at these dances.
You don’t have to be a Red Hatter to continue to have adventures in life and to explore opportunities for learning, growth and fun. You just need a Red Hatter attitude: Make the most out of your life at any age, especially when you are older, when you proudly wear more purple.