By Lisa Scottoline
On July 1, I’m turning sixty-five.
That’s right, I’m officially a senior citizen.
And with age, comes wisdom.
Lucky for you, I’m not going to impart any wisdom of my own herein.
It would probably take only a minute or two, so you’re not missing much wisdom, not even your minimum daily requirement.
But I know a lot of things, from experience. I learned from the good things that happened to me, and more from my mistakes. I look forward to making many more, bigger and better mistakes. I hope to improve my mistake-making, in general.
Wish me (bad) luck!
Sixty-five years teach you a lot. And senior citizens have a lot to teach us, a whole lot. A lot that can prevent us from getting into trouble, or can make our life easier, or help us be happier.
The irony is that the older you get, and the more wisdom you acquire, the less people are willing to listen to you.
Your mother probably knew this, too. So did your father. So did your grandparents, if you remember them.
When they tried to tell you stuff, I don’t know if you listened.
I admit, I didn’t.
Mother Mary thought she knew everything and told me so.
Do you know what?
She was right.
One thing she told me becomes truer each day: “Remember, the world doesn’t revolve around you.”
I think of that these days, because you can’t become a senior citizen without reference to the pandemic.
People are getting sick every day, and dying, and we know that senior citizens are the highest-risk group, especially those in nursing homes. But in almost every news story, that’s a footnote.
I walk around the block with the dogs, and because I rarely see another person, I carry my mask in a fanny pack. But if I see someone approaching, I put the mask on. And we all know that the mask prevents the spread of the disease, protecting others rather than the person in the mask.
But I pass younger people, and they aren’t wearing masks to protect me. Or anyone else.
Honestly, Mother Mary would be spitting mad.
And creatively profane.
When you wear a mask, you’re proving that you know the world doesn’t revolve around you.
You’re doing it for others.
And for the greater good.
I wish we valued older people more, and I say that not because I’m officially older. Because the greater good may not include your parents or grandparents, but includes somebody’s parents or grandparents.
And they matter.
An author smarter than I am has said, The past isn’t prologue. It isn’t even past.
I’m actually thrilled about my birthday. I don’t mind being my age. I feel better than ever, except for the sadness of the pandemic. I read the obituaries with my heart in my throat. I look at the grim Covid charts, try to follow the red lines, and remember that all of those numbers, which they call “cases,” are people.
Time, and the pandemic, has taught me that people are the only thing that matter in life. Not things, not accomplishments, not houses, not money.
To lose one is a loss for all.
To lose the oldest of us is not the footnote, it’s the story.
Old people are living history.
We are who we are because of them.
We are here because of them.
If all it takes to protect them is a mask, sign me up.
Not because I’m turning sixty-five.
Because I’m Mother Mary’s daughter.
Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2020
Lisa is thrilled to announce that her co-author for these humorous essays, daughter Francesca Serritella, published her debut novel, Ghosts of Harvard on May 5, 2020. Order the book by May 19th, and you can get a free paperback of their essays!