By Freda Rumford from the March 2016 Edition
I have had many, many names in my lifetime as have we all. Daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, girlfriend, fiancé, bride, wife, daughter-in-law, sisterin-law, mummy, Mum, mother-in-law, auntie, grandmother, great grandmother, plus many too rude for this article to mention and the latest one which I like least of all, widow.
It is astonishing that all of these names apply to the same person and the one using that title to address one, perceives the individual in a different light to one using another title, and even how a person being addresses responds even a little differently to each.
Being a Gemini, I am constantly changing anyway but after a while it can become a bit confusing. But not nearly so irritating as when I call family members by the wrong name because just for that moment I have what my son calls a ‘brain fart!” The children, for some inexplicable reason, really did not like me calling them by the other gender’s name. Ian did not like being called Claire and Claire does not like being called Matthew. Even as I am writing I am remembering all the other titles I could add to the list but this is long enough and too much for my mind to tackle.
Along with those names and titles, also comes a code of ethics or defined and expected behavioural pattern. As ‘Mum.’ I am supposed to be strict (to a point) and loving, as a grandmother – doting, as wife and lover – a lady in public and an animal in the bedroom.
On contemplating my current situation, I found it a total mystery. In years gone by, I would have just sat in a rocking chair with my mob cap on, knitting shawls, or socks, or even doing the family darning and not expected to be anything but there and quiet, only speaking when spoken to! These days, in the words of the King of Siam: “’Tis a puzzlement!”
What is even stranger is that when I spoke of my quandary, I got a completely unanimous chorus in reply. What did I say? “I don’t know how to behave now!” The response from every other woman in the room where
I made this statement, “Neither do I!”
In days gone by as we aged, styles, patterns, behaviours changed and people became old either gradually or slowly depending on who they were. In this day and age, when 50 is the new 30 and 60 becomes the new 40, it is incredible how 70 has now become the new 45 or 50. I absolutely cannot imagine my grandmother running around in my shorts and T shirts. She would have worn a dress, with sleeves, buttoned up to the neck even on the beach. Wear a bathing suit? For goodness sake, of what do you speak?
How times have changed and how our expectations have changed along with it. It is no longer possible for the aging person to consider themselves “old” because indeed they are not. For those of us in the “Forgotten generation” it is no longer possible to absolutely define what one is to become in each categorisation and probably it will be more difficult still as the “baby boomers” reach the dizzy heights of becoming 70 +. Will the retirement plans be the same?
As each successive generation becomes of that “certain age” what do they do then? They are mentally and physically so much younger than those of generations past; will they want to give up their life’s work if it has been enjoyed and then scurry every day to the golf course or to the gym? Let’s face it, having children has come later and later and people in their forties are now contemplating whether they wish to have a family or not. Previously it was in the 20’s that the family expansion began.
With the decline of our population, probably retirement will not happen in the same way as it appears that pension funds are dwindling and perhaps it is as well that these up and coming old people are still able to work.
All I know for sure is, I am absolutely not ready yet to reach for my walking stick and the rocking chair. Yet, I still do not know how to behave!!