Welcome to this series on Seniors. I hope you enjoy this thought-provoking and inspiring reading.

As the decades accumulate, there are challenges to health and intellect. According to Bette Davis, old age is no place for sissies or wimps.

A puzzled 5-year-old boy accompanied his mother to a retirement home. Why does she call her friends there “the girls.” They have “grandma’s faces.”

I never expected to be among them, or the grandpas they greatly outnumbered.

I never felt old until 10 years ago when a young lady in a car next to me in a crowded parking lot waved me ahead of her with an “OK Pop.” I was then 79 and took umbrage because I felt no sign of advancing age. At What Age Does One Become ‘Old’?

When are we old?

I still recall the remarks of a clergyman, retiring on his 75th birthday, who told his parishioners: “You think I’m old. You are old when your mind makes a date your body can’t keep, I am not that old.”

I found old age began in my 80s. Steps got shorter, chores took longer (most everything these days is a chore–even dressing), visits to doctors and hospitals became more numerous, and bones more brittle. An afternoon nap is one of life’s little pleasures.

Words do not flow as they once did when I was an active newspaperman. I must ponder the right word. I find solace in E. B. White’s lament:

“The aging mind has a bagful of nasty tricks; one is to tuck names and words away in crannies where they are not immediately available.”

We entered a high-rise retirement home. We liked it and I, now alone, still do. Not everyone does.

There are 348 of us — doctors, lawyers, educators, engineers, journalists, military veterans, and former government employees. Some residents are still active. A lawyer in his 90s, who specializes in drafting wills, probating estates, and consulting on domestic relations, still goes to his office daily.

A retired Army general buys and sells stamps. Wallace J. Campbell, one of the founders of CARE, an organization involved in relief, food programs, and development in 44 countries, goes daily to CARE’s Washington office. Once, president of the organization, he is now president-emeritus.

Frank Sinatra lives here. Not “Mr. Blue Eyes from Hoboken,” but “Mr. Brown Eyes from Philadelphia.” Our Mr. Sinatra was a percussionist for 30 years with the National Symphony in Washington. A picture of the two Franks with Dinah Shore taken years ago in Philadelphia is in his apartment.

We have a lady who likes to be called “Countess.” She conducts herself sedately, never goes out without a hat or gloves, and enjoys having tea Sunday afternoons in a downtown hotel. One day we got the real story. At tea, a young waitress heard her addressed by friends as “Countess.”

“Are you a real countess?” she asked.

The reply: “I was married to a real no-account. I think that makes me a real countess.”


Most elderly people love to eat. They are at the dining room door in numbers before the 8 a.m. opening for the buffet breakfast.

At dinner one night, a lady talked about her 18-year-old cat that suffers from arthritis and deafness, among other problems, but “loves to eat.”

“Just like the people here,” her dinner companion commented.

Many women say they came here because they are tired of cooking. “Anything I don’t have to do–buy it, cook it and serve it–is fine with me,” one said.

I’m sure that few, if any, of us had at home every night a menu like this: soup a onion, Caesar salad, fresh rolls, cottage cheese, apple sauce, fruit juice, a choice of lamb with mint sauce, chicken Florentine or turbot with sauce veloute, lemon sorbet or chocolate mousse and coffee.

Then there are swimming and water exercise classes. In the latter, we wiggle our fingers and toes, dance, and prance, all of which one lady says, “takes us back to our childhood.”

The class instructor says she heard some women ask: “Are we ready for Broadway?”

No need to worry.

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Nick Thorne is the founder of Nick’s Digital Solutions Limited. He lives in Levin, New Zealand.

Nick Thorne performs a cat scan