2012.06.06 Life at 50+ makes me want Elderhostel

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Flipping through the April/May AARP magazine this weekend, I noticed a two page ad about their “Life @ 50+” event in New Orleans this September and yearned to go.

The event features celebrity speakers, “lifestyle and learning” sessions, tours, exhibits, and even an opportunity to help with the redevelopment of New Orleans by volunteering to do work in the neighborhoods.

The AARP ad brought to mind thoughts of the Elderhostel program (now called Road Scholars). Back in the 80s and 90s, my in-laws used to take trips to fascinating places where they took classes and learned new and interesting things—but didn’t have to take any tests or write papers. It was like college for grown-ups without the stress of getting good grades. What could be more fun?!

Back then, you had to be 50 to participate or be married to someone who was. I considered it one of the perks of marrying an older man. David is seven years my senior and I couldn’t wait for him to get older and turn 50 so we could go on an Elderhostel trip. 

But when David turned 50 eleven years ago, Ben was just starting college and Rosie and Maddie were still at home. We wouldn’t have gone on trips without them, so Elderhosteling went on the back burner. 

Age-wise, I think now must be the time we should be going, but we’re both so busy with our jobs that it’s not really feasible. And with Ben and Sarah expecting our next grandbaby Oct. 5, Elderhosteling isn’t happening. We’d much rather spend our money visiting our kids and grandkids.

That is, as long as our kids don’t ever divorce us. That was the next thing I flipped to in the AARP magazine. ”When Your Kid ‘Divorces’ You” was a sidebar to the article, “The Stranger in Your Family: You’ve raised them. Now they’ll barely speak to you. What’s driving the rise in parent-child estrangements?”

I moved from that depressing article to an essay about appreciating old people; it cheered me up considerably. I was well into it before I wondered who wrote this pleasant article, and lo and behold, discovered it was our friend Elizabeth Berg, the New York Times bestselling author who visited the library three years ago.

In “Forever Young? Really? What we lose by refusing to act our age,” Elizabeth recounts stories of her childhood interactions with her grandfather whom she adored: “He would pop out his false teeth and then gulp them back in (we thought they were real, so you can imagine how impressed we were).”

Her essay was more about the outward appearance of aging, but made me think about how I really must be getting old because I’ve totally lost that carefree exuberance I had as a young adult.

I know I am old because when Maddie e-mails things like “Sold Sunny and got a job with Jim for 3 weeks. Big day,” I cringe. 

Oh, I’m thrilled that she has unloaded “Sunny,” the one-thing-wrong-after-another camper van, but I shudder at the thought of her not only working for, but living with, the unknown Jim. 

Well, I do know a tiddley bit about Jim. Back when Maddie’s friend Natalie was still in New Zealand, Jim was the guy who gave them a ride when they were hitchhiking—and then later suggested they buy the one-thing-wrong-after-another camper van.

We learned about Jim in a Feb. 14 e-mail. 

“Successful hitching. Made it to Christchurch and staying at a nice man’s house. He owns an organic yoghurt company. Tomorrow we’ll try to buy a campervan. And avoid earthquakes.” 

Such a short e-mail, but so fraught with seeds of worry: They’re hitchhiking? They’re staying in the home of a man who picked them up while hitchhiking? They’re buying a vehicle? And, oy, earthquakes. 

I had forgotten that I should worry about earthquakes. I must have glossed right over that back in February. I’m still stuck on “girl alone, living with nice man who owns an organic yogurt company” and thankful that we’ve made it past “girl in New Zealand eating $3 lunches with the Hare Krishnas.”

If I die of worry before I die of old age I’ll never get to Elderhostel.

  • Front.train
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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