Becca Becomes a Septuagenarian

Chapter 1
Becca Becomes a Septuagenarian

When you’re 70 years old, you become more thankful for “the big things in life.” For example, large print crossword puzzles.

Did you know that GETTING OLD IS A ONE TIME EXPERIENCE? So, when did this experience of getting old start. I think with me it started on that beautiful June day in Columbus Ohio – June 24, 2000 to be exact. On that day my son and his wife had a 70th birthday party for me in their home and thus the process began.

In fact, I decided to Google “a 70 year old” and see what the “all knowing” computer had to say about describing a 70 year old. That is when I found out there actually is a word for a 70 year old. The word is Sep-tu-a-ge-nar-i-an….. A Septuagenarian is a person who is 70 years old or….between the ages of 70 and 80…..and….of course I realized that on that day that would be me.

Septuagenarian: noun- someone whose age is in the seventies. Yes, that is when it dawned on me that according to Wikipedia I am getting old. After all, if Wikipedia says it is so, then it is so. Right?

Here’s what they tag on next to the word septuagenarian: golden – ager, old person, oldster, senior citizen. Aw, common, do I really have to listen to this any longer?
I think from here on in I will just call myself a septuagenarian and not focus on each year per se. From now on I will just say my age is between 70 and 80. Yes, that ought to do it. Done.

Since most people will not call me a septuagenarian, I wonder what they will call me. I suppose I am being called all of the things that I never wanted to hear myself being called like senior citizen, or an older person, or ma’am. Why do I find being called ma’am so offensive? Hmm. I’ll have to think on that one.

Since I am someone whose age is now going to flow into my seventies, I guess some people might call me any one of those names like a golden ager, on oldster, a senior citizen. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh.

What do I want to be called is the real question? I guess I still want to be called by my name, which is exactly what people have been calling me all my life. You know, call me by the name that you called me when you sang happy birthday to me at my 70th party. You did not belt out the song by saying Happy Birthday to Golden Ager. I remember you just sang Happy Birthday to Becca. Yep, that’s what I want to be called – Becca.

Oh, by the way, birthday parties in my family have always been celebrated with a lot of hoopla and the time and place of the party was always at the discretion of the recipient. So, it came as no surprise to me when my sister Rachel started in on me about one year before I turned 70 with the usual…..where do you want your 70th birthday to take place? She actually wanted me to commit while still enjoying my big brother Bernie’s 70th birthday bash.

Will you want to stage it in Florida, or Ohio or Vegas or do you want to plan a Cruise Rachel queried. What’s it going to be she kept asking me? She said, “I want to know so I can start thinking about travel etc”.

It did not matter how many times I shrugged it off, that onerous 70th birthday, my sister never let up on me with her constant nagging about my birthday party. “Alright, alright Rachel, I said a few months later on the phone. I think I have decided to have it in Columbus Ohio and all I have to do is call Gary and Krista and see if it could take place at their house.” In that manner most of the family will find this to be a good location and the nieces and nephews that are still in the area might attend….Florida being too expensive with travel etc. So, it was decided that Columbus, Ohio would be the venue for my party.

Now, let me tell you why birthday parties became so very personal and special and decadent in our family. There were five of us siblings, and the three oldest, Bernie, myself, and Rachel were all one year apart in age….to the week. Yes, you guessed it. When we were growing up my mother never did give us each a birthday party. If she did, that would have meant a birthday party three weeks in a row, one for Bernie, one for me and one for Rachel. What she did do was to have one combined birthday party, one cake with three names on the cake and voila, Mom was able to satisfy three kids with one cake. Well, it wasn’t completely satisfying because I never did feel as though my birthdays were all that special. You know what I mean…. just for me. I think the only way a birthday should be shared is if you were a twin…but then again, I always was the complainer in the family.

That was it folks. We never did have our own special day when we were kids, so as we got older, and milestone birthdays started to creep into our lives we began having special birthday parties to mark the milestones. I think they started at the big five-o, then sixty, sixty-five and seventy. Seems like the birthday parties started coming more often.

Let’s use brother Bernie’s 70th birthday as an example. Brother Bernie’s 70th was a big deal in Louisville, Ky, master minded by his wife Hannah. All five of us siblings were there with bells on our toes. Bernie, Becca, Rachel, Denny, and Eliot. The party was held on Saturday night in the party house in the complex where Bernie and Hannah lived.
We all flew into Louisville, Ky on Friday, spent a lot of fun time at the hotel together, caught up with our lives in the hot tub and then we all trekked over to Bernie’s home for the catered dinner on Friday evening which Hannah put together for most of the immediate family and the out- of- towners. The real party was on Saturday night with more family coming in for the day as well as a lot of the birthday Boy’s friends. A good time was had by all.

A real 70th bash and, in my opinion, Bernie’s wife outdid herself throwing this party for my big brother. Bernie was the oldest and yes, he became a septuagenarian one year and one week earlier than I. Let our seventies begin.

The usual five of us posed for the perfunctory family picture silently wondering when “the picture” with the five of us would be without all five of us. This was always in the back of our minds when the five of us posed for this picture because our parents died very young and we always wondered when or who would be the first to go among us. Dad died at the age of 35 and Mom about twenty years later.

As you may have figured out, these birthday parties not only served as a special day for the birthday sibling of the moment, they also more or less served as our annual family reunions. They were fun, but, as in all families things begin to change and as my 70th began approaching things did start to change. I actually sensed that all five of us would not make the effort to attend my party the following year if I did in fact have one. But, so as not to break the mold that has been the norm for about the past 20 years I let Rachel badger me into planning my own 70th only one year after Bernie’s fabulous event in Louisville.

Here’s why I was not really too keen on trying to put my 70th together. My youngest brother, the big shot doctor, created an aloof relationship with me over a non-issue incident regarding something that happened in the family and I became the brunt of his displeasure. He was carrying this grudge for a couple years and I sensed his displeasure with me would manifest itself by the time it was time to gather as a family for my 70th birthday party. And, being that he was very close with Denny….yes, you guessed it – the two of them and their respective families choose to sit out my 70th birthday. I really did sense this happening and I was right. They did not attend.

Birthday parties were never the same after that and as I recall, Bernie’s 70th bash just one year prior to mine was the last time the five of us were ever photographed together. In fact, a few years later brother Denny passed away and his funeral was the first time since Bernie’s birthday bash that the family was together again.

By the way, because we lost our parents at a very young age it made us siblings the family matriarchs and patriarchs. I guess that is why the five of us stuck to these birthday party traditions all those years. At the time of my 70th birthday I was a bit resentful that the two youngest brothers choose not to pay homage to me when I became a septuagenarian but, brother Eliot is vindictive and he still was carrying his grudge with me so……that is the way it was going to be. I am not about to beat myself up because he chose to hold a grudge.

In fact, now that a few years have gone by and brother Denny has passed on, I no longer think of them as having been the ones in the family to stop the birthday party celebration at my 70th. I can only now morn the loss of Denny as the reason the five of us are no longer together at the milestone parties. Sadly, Denny never did become a septuagenarian. He died at the age of 69.

Since I became a septuagenarian, I think I have come to grips with the fact that I am done with the birthday celebrations. I will stick with the proper description of septuagenarian, a person between the ages of 70 and 80 and that’s as close as I will get to telling people my age.

Most of the time I do not feel old unless there is something or someone that jogs my memory to remind me of the fact that I am getting old.

Actually, that does remind me that my son Lewis made me feel old not too long ago. Shortly after his 50th birthday….and I might add, that alone should make me feel old, but, shortly after his 50th birthday we were on the phone and Lewis said, “Mom, I am really mad” he said. And of course I asked, “Why are you so mad Lewis,” He preceded to tell me that he went to the movies the other day and they asked him if he wanted a senior discount? I laughed and merely said, how do you think that makes me feel.

If my son is being asked if he wants a senior discount can you imagine how old that must make me feel? Imagine that, you have a kid who is being asked if they want a senior discount at the movies. Oh, the life of the septuagenarian.

Here is another thing that made me feel old recently. I was listening to music from the 50’s and I noticed that I remembered the words to all the songs and could actually sing along with the music. And now, here is the getting old factor. I do not know one single song that is popular today. So, if you can remember all the songs from the fifties and you do not know anything about today’s music that might be a sign you are a septuagenarian.

I have decided that instead of being called a senior or an old lady or an elderly person, I might hope to be called a classic. Wait a minute, even that sounds old to me. I guess I will just ask to be called Becca. Yes, that’s it. People will point to me and say, hey Becca and I will surly turn around and smile. That would be much better than being called hey, old lady, or ma’am, or any of those other monikers that they tag on people in their 70’s. Yep, I guess I keep thinking about what I want to be called. It’s become an obsession with me but I am sure I’ll get over it.

  1. Bea-isms says:

    How did you all like the first chapter of my book.

    BTW, the book is all about people in their seventies.
    The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

    Feel free to add things about you or your loved ones who are in their 70’s – especially blog your hearts out about your own experiences regarding birthday’s. It will certainly add another dimension to this chapter.

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