i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

How old is old?

How old is old?

Will you please tell me how many candles are on your cake? Or is it a secret?

At what age do you stop telling how old  you are? When do you decide you are old enough?

“I am old enough, thank you very much.”

And if you really don’t want to get older what age would you choose to stop at? When your children were in diapers? When you were thirty and lived in the small apartment? Or do you stop before you add a zero?

How old is old?

To the little girl in my class, “Story Time With Mrs. Tomato,” old is when you move up to Cubbies in Awana. She said, “I am not a little girl.  I am a big girl now.”

Old is when you turn thirteen and become a teenager. Old is when you turn eighteen and are an adult. Old is when you turn twenty and are no longer a teenager. Old is when you turn twenty-one and can legally drink. Old is when you turn twenty-five. Old is when you start adding zero’s to your age. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety and one hundred.

Did you feel old when your child started kindergarten, graduated from high school, moved away to college? Did you feel old when you had your first grandchild? When your grandparent died? When you parent died?

Is old when you find your first gray hair?

Is sixty old?

My friend told me a story about her Aunt’s birthday party. She said her Aunt was turning sixty and they had a surprise party for her.

A random thought immediately flew through my brains,  Sixty, She is really old. 

Hey, wait a minute Hodges, you will be sixty in four years. Since when is sixty old? Why is her Aunt old and you aren’t. And what is old??

I don’t think about how old I am. I see my children adding candles to their cake, and my cake is covered in candles. I think I will go backwards and be thirty-four like my mother. She was only recently turned thirty-five. And I am older than her now, at fifty-five.

What does sixty look like? I bought a cake and three boxes of candles. There are only twenty-four candles in a box. Maybe old is when you have to buy more than one box of candles for your cake.

What does sixty candles look like?

You can’t light all sixty candles before the first candles melt down to the icing. Perhaps that is old.

Old is when you can’t light all of your birthday candles without the first ones melting.

But I would rather be old than dead.

If you are not getting older, you are dead.

Each day is a gift. I am thankful for each gray hair on my head. I see every one as a gift. A personal gift from an angel who kissed my head while I was sleeping.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31

George Bernard Shaw says you grow old when you stop laughing.

 You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.
― George Bernard Shaw

May we never stop laughing.

I asked a few friends what they think old is.

Jessica said, “Old is eighty. But I know some 80 year olds who aren’t old. And the older I get, my definition of “old” changes.”

My husband Nick said, “Old is when you think you are old?”

Iya said, “Old is used up and unable to accomplish anything anymore. I’ve seen a few young eighty year olds…”

Elisse said, ” Old is being feeble of mind or body. This isn’t an age because my Grandma was young at the age of 75. It’s a mind thing. Some days I feel old at 30ish but mostly I feel young. Haha.”

Suzanne said, “Old is so subjective, there can’t be a definition. My youngest son was old at two. Old is a physical state to me. My mom just got old this last year. She can’t shop as long as she used to. She can’t drive at night.”

Old is when your three-year old tells their grandmother, “Gramma, you know you’re old and you’re going to die soon, right?”

And me? What do I think old is? Old is when  you are not physically capable of getting on your hands and knees to clean your litter boxes. (I have seven.)

 What do you think? How old is old? Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.

p.s. Here are some interesting articles on aging

How Old Is Old Age? – New York Times

What Is Old? Not 63 And Not Me, Say Aging Baby Boomers – Forbes

Old Age Doesn’t Start Until 80 Study Finds – The Huffington Post

About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

Feature Box

Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Sue Sutherlin

    I think I might be starting to feel old. My “baby” turned 16 last year. Becoming a grandmother definitely did NOT make me feel old (well . . . it was the year I turned 40, so I guess I WASN’T old, right?) When I see many young mothers with their new babies, part of me would like to be able to do that again, but my body can no longer do that. I have been blessed with genes that have kept my hair mostly dark, with only a few silver strands, so frequently people think I am younger than I really am. I am with you – getting older beats the alternative (dead), although I agree with another who commented “Not that dead is dreadful if you know Jesus” (which I do). I guess I don’t really know what “old” is . . . when I was 20 (and 30 and 40), 58 seemed old. Now that I am 58, it doesn’t seem so old. My husband is 67, and that doesn’t seem so old to me, either. My dad is 87, and I have quite a few years to go before I will be that “old”, so maybe I am not so old after all.

    • Hello Sue,
      What does feeling old feel like? And congratulations on becoming a grandmother.
      I thought I might have felt old yesterday for about five minutes, but I was mistaken. It was just gas.
      How wonderful your father is still alive. And 58 doesn’t feel old either. Maybe because I am 56. It is always so nice to hear from you.

      • Sue Sutherlin

        Since I “think” I “might” be starting to feel old, I’m not really sure what exactly it feels like. I move a little slower with a few more aches and pains, but I can still move briskly UP the 20 stairs that take me to the classroom where I work part-time, so then I don’t feel SO old.

  • Hallo fellow Libra. My b-day is on the 22nd. 48 candles. Need a BIG cake I guess. I’m not planning on growing old. Just weirder and funnier and eccentric.

    • Hello Patricia,
      I will gladly grow weirder, funnier and more eccentric with you.
      Happy Birthday dear fellow Libra.
      Don’t try to light them all of once. Your icing will melt before you get them all lit.

  • jane williams

    Not sure where I went, but I’m back – older – and am remembering again why I’m such a fan. So glad you paint and write. 🙂

    • Hello Jane,
      I am so happy you stopped by to say hello. I haven’t written on my blog everyday. If I am here everyday then I don’t paint or work on my books.
      I hope all is well with you.

  • Kathy Storrie

    I am a young person who lives in an older body.

    • Kathy,
      I love your stories. Your last name is perfect for a writer.
      And you are a young person. Wishing you all the best,

      • Kathy Storrie

        Thanks Pamela,
        When I was young (and in a young body) I told God I wanted to fall in love with the man He chose for me and pleeeeease let him also have a very good last name. (Remember my story on having the last name curse of Wilcox ?) But, like Abraham I had to have my new last name Storrie a looooong time before it rubbed off on me. Abraham became a father of many nations and I became a writer after 40yrs.

  • Teresa Richardson

    I agree that “old” is all in the mind. On Oct 16 I will be 58 years young.

    • Hello Teresa,
      October is such a good month to be born in. I am an October baby as well. Two days after you is my birthday.
      Yes, I would rather stay young always. Happy Birthday to you Teresa. You young thing you.

    • Sue Sutherlin

      Teresa, you and I share an October 16th birthday, but I will be 59. Happy Birthday many months early!

  • On November 11, I will turn 65. I definitely don’t feel old; however, this is the first year that my body hasn’t complied 100%. That, I don’t like. These are the years when I finally get to live, really live- to write, to paint, to photograph, to grow into myself. If I were old, none of it would be possible.

    • Happy Birthday Shelley,
      I wouldn’t have questioned your age by several decades. I am excited for you and these days when you really get to live. I look forward to reading of your adventures. xo Pamela

  • kathunsworth

    Hey Pamela OLD is all in your head, my mother is eighty and she says she does not feel old, but she agree’s her body cannot do the things she use to do and so you find new ways around your challenges. If you say you are old, you will be. I have always been honest about my age and in a week or so I will turn fifty. The number does disturb me, but its the creases and crinkles that really hit home. I am learning to love my age no matter the number. Rather reach my next birthday than the alternative. Be young at heart, even if your body cannot follow.

    • Hello Kath,
      Sending you birthday wishes for your special birthday. Actually, ever birthday is special because it is a celebration of life. Lets get wrinkled together, drawing, painting and staying young in our heads. Our bodies may age, but we don’t have to.
      A Birthday Song for you.

  • As one whose body has been stiff and sore, weak and weary for over 20 years due to chronic illness, I have felt much older physically than I actually am. Though now my hair is silvery and I’ve become a grandma (and just turned 60 years young), I guess my looks and circumstances are finally catching up with my body! On a good health day I feel my age and on a bad one I’m nearer 80..lol. But my mind is youthful in outlook and I’m not ready yet to concede that I am old.
    Life and age are a gift of grace and I aim to enjoy them to the full in whatever capacity I can. So I celebrated my recent entry into seniority and partied away in a slow, sedate M.E fashion of course! I love and agree with what Pat says below. It’s vital to stay “vibrant and involved and fun.” So do excuse me.. I must go and play with my new smart-phone and log on to social media sites to keep tabs on my friends and all they’re doing. 🙂

    • Joy,
      You are rocking the silver hair. Just think of all the angels that have kissed your head while you were asleep. Silver hair and a grandbaby. Life is good.
      I pray for healing for your body.
      Joy, you don’t ever have to concede that you are old.
      Age is in our mind.
      The world wants to put us in little “age range boxes,” but we don’t have to stay in them.
      And, I do excuse you to play on your smart-phone. Have fun Joy. Your name is my favorite. It reminds me that there is joy in life.
      All my best,

      • Pamela,
        You are so sweet and kind! And I love your SOH and positive attitude. You are rocking staying young in spirit; for only those in touch with their inner creative child can really achieve this well. I’m grateful for your prayers and your posts. They remind me that there is always something to be thankful for and that joy and laughter linger around every sharp corner. God bless you, my friend. 🙂 x

  • I remember one response I gave my husband, Mike over this very topic. He said, “You know they are about our age.”

    “There is no our age,” I said. There is your age and there is my age.”

    We are four years apart.

    When he says “we’re old.” I tell him, “I’m not.”

    You’re as old as you think you are. And as we age, that can change from day to day.

    Great post, Pamela. As usual.

    • Oh Anne,
      You are too funny.
      “There is no our age.”
      And, yes, your husband may be old, but you are not. Even when you turn one hundred he will still be older.
      Thank you Anne.

  • Berdeane Bodley

    What is old?? A great question, old is however old one feels, me, I feel the same as I did when I was in my 30’s & likely will forever. My cousin will never disclose his age as he says it is just a #, and that is exactly how I feel. It is just a #. Never stop laughing it is the excelsior of life……..

    • Hi Mom,
      Well, when we get together all we do is laugh. So the trick to staying young is to hang out with my mother.
      Love your daughter who is thirty-four. Are you still thirty-four Mom?

  • La McCoy

    you know it when you see it. Old is old.

    • Hello La,
      I always thought old was dead. If you are not dead, you are not old.
      And you La, will never be old.
      Hugs to you and Edelweiss.

  • GirlGriot

    Aging is so weird, isn’t it? I stopped telling people my age when I was in my 40s, suddenly self-conscious about people knowing I was “so old.” Pretty much as soon as I turned 50, however, that concern disappeared. I actually started to enjoy telling people my age. Conveniently, “old” is a shifting target … it’s always WAY older than whatever age I am! 🙂

    In truth, I acknowledge that I am old, and I’m fine with that. There are things I wish I’d been able to do as a younger woman that I can no longer do, but for the most part, these first years of my 50s have marked a change in my approach to my life, and I only see that continuing, which is exciting. Earlier this month, I posted about embracing my aging, embracing myself as the Crone, the wise, free, powerful me. As I said in that post: I’ve got work to do!

    • My dearest Girl Griot,
      I would never call you old. Sassy maybe, but never old. May I please age with you. May I be wise, free and powerful with you.

      Will you please the link to your story on aging here. I would love to read it and share it with my friends.

      Sending you hugs.

  • Pat Meyers

    I am so happy to share how many candles will be on my cake. October 27th my cake will have 54 candles! Why am I excited and thrilled to share? Because five years ago I was told it would probably be my last, the doctors said to gather my family and say my goodbyes. They were wrong! I have a God that said I was not done yet. Then 4 years ago I received a new kidney! Well, it was used, but new to me! Now every birthday is a joyous celebration. I think we should ALL celebrate every single one. Old is not dead. Not that dead is dreadful if you know Jesus, but it is not celebrating with your family here. So, who cares how old is old. I don’t care. Staying vibrant and involved and fun. That’s my plan. As always, I love your words.

    • Hello Pat,
      WOW. Now that is a story.
      I had no idea you had been that sick. When we were friends in Illinois in the nineties you were always full of energy and smiles. And all that time your kidney was slowing down.
      Praise God for your health and a new kidney. More days to smile and share the love you have for Jesus and your family.
      Wishing you all the best Pat.
      Hugs to you and your family.