12 things your grandparents said…

old age by CecigianWhen you are very young, forty seems ancient and grandparents are, of course, so old they are practically another species. Like dinosaurs…almost- but-not-quite extinct and very much at home in museums. Their homes bear the traces of a ‘bygone era’…you know, a whole twenty years ago… and it is impossible to imagine yourself walking in their shoes. Not that you would be seen dead in them…

I clearly remember my own feeling of awe when my mother reached the venerable age of thirty. I was already pretty much grown up… in my own eyes at least… and could barely conceive of a time when I would be that old. These days, of course, thirty is a spring chicken and even my grandparents would have been younger then than I am now. I remember too some years later when my great grandmother, well into her late nineties at that point, explained that she still felt 18 inside; it was only her body that had aged. At a little over half her age, I know what she means these days and I got to thinking about some of the other things my grandparents had said to me.

1. “I wouldn’t want to be 18 again…” Now why, thinks the youngster, wouldn’t you want to be standing on the threshold of life, with a body that works as well as it looks?

Too damned right I wouldn’t want to be 18 again says the older self… I wouldn’t mind bits of me turning back the clock to that particular decade. Mainly the ones that were measured in inches. But on the whole you can keep the teenage years. Too much angst, too many hormones. And anyway, every day is a threshold. And, the older you get, an achievement.

2. “It’s all downhill from here…” This one needs a certain amount of clarification. When they said ‘all’, they meant it. Back then I assumed they were speaking merely of advancing years. And possibly the inevitable descent of salient points of the female anatomy. Not everything from cheeks to hair.

On the other hand, downhill is always easier, more comfortable… and usually far more fun.

3. “Wait till you’re my age…” Been there, done that… what next?


4. “Wait till you have kids…” See above.

Of course, when those kids have children of their own there is both the joy of grandparenthood and the silent satisfaction that comes when you realise that you survived all the sleepless nights and the worry… and not only when they were babies either.

And now you don’t have to.

Then you get a dog.

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5. “Youth is wasted on the young…” The old can be younger than the young. Youth has a brash self confidence that masks its insecurities. Time brings a ‘what the hell’ attitude that ceases to worry about society’s curtain twitchers.

6. “I’m old enough to get away with it…” Think purple hair. The unholy glee involved in doing the things your younger self would not have dared to do. There appears to be an exponential ratio between advancing years and the ability/desire to embarrass any of your children who think you should grow up. Also see above.

7. “What?” “Eh?” “What number is that bus?” You, of course, are never going to find yourself losing hearing or vision. You are young and indulge the ‘elderly’ fifty somethings with a certain amount of exasperation.

Wrong. Your hearing will diminish, if not in volume then in range. You won’t even realise you have been lipreading for years until you can’t hear the dialogue in that night scene of the movie. And if all else fails, your hearing will become selective. Because it can.

Your eyesight is a different matter. It is at this point the zoom lens on the camera comes into its own, allowing you to see both blurred distance and close detail.

The eyes on needles are now being made impossibly small and printing fonts are becoming unreasonably tiny. And no, you haven’t got your glasses because you’ve forgotten where they are…

On the other hand, you see more than you have ever seen before. Mainly because whatever they are up to, you have already done.

Old Age (1).jpeg

8. “They’re comfortable…” There are few things more elegant than an older person who has ‘made an effort’, few things more beautiful than eyes filled with knowledge and experience of life. Yet flatties and elasticated waistlines are your preferred style these days.

You’ve teetered around in stilettos (I’m probably talking about the women here) were in at the original birth of the mini skirt (applies in various ways to both genders) and you can still dress up with the best.

You are, however, no longer obliged to be a contortionist to get into skin-tight jeans, can choose warmth over style… or simply create your own. See point 6… and point 5 for that matter. And possibly point 2.

9. “Ouch…” (Or a variety of other groans, creaks and noises) Face it. Any machine is going to wear out; use it at maximum capacity and it will eventually become ‘loose in the joints and very shabby’. This is no bad thing. It means you have lived.

10. “I couldn’t care less these days…” This, of course, is something of a dichotomy. On the one hand most of the previous points illustrate that where the opinion of the world is concerned, this is actually true. This is the inner freedom that the years bring as their gift.

On the other, it is an out and out fallacy. You don’t stop caring as you get older, in fact, if anything, you care more deeply. You care about the changing world, seeing with the clarity of distance the follies of youth being played out upon the world stage. You have little patience for the posturing and jostling for position of the power hungry. You just may not shout quite as loudly about it. But then again, you just might.

You have seen enough to know what really is important… and those things you care about. You cherish friendship and companionship, your family and those you love. And getting out of bed in a morning.


11. “I remember when…” Don’t knock it. The elders of a tribe used to be valued. You have become a caretaker of the past, passing on what you have learned of the wisdom of generations. You become a walking Wikipedia. The original wifi. Here too the camera comes into its own, not capturing beauty, but memories to share; visual reminders for a time when the personal RAM (randomly accessible memory) is so crammed full of a life well-lived that retrieval becomes debatable.

12. “If I had known then what I know now…” What…no mistakes? Now where would the fun be in that?

Neil Gaiman, the ‘middle aged’ writer whose twitter handle famously states that he ‘will eventually grow up and get a real job’ says it perfectly.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

There’s not a lot to add to that, is there?


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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51 Responses to 12 things your grandparents said…

  1. And to think I AM that grandmother. How did this happen? When did it happen? Being the older generation is one of those jokes life plays on you, so the only thing you can do about it is laugh 🙂 You’ve got a good start on the laughter. Hold that thought. All of those thoughts.


  2. I have friends… chronological peers, who call me “cave man.” What the youngsters call me I’m less concerned about. Indeed, laughter gets us through so much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sknicholls says:

    You’ve pretty well covered all the bases. There can be no doubt that growing old is interesting. And we keep learning life’s lessons.


  4. sknicholls says:

    Reblogged this on S.K. Nicholls and commented:
    If you don’t follow Sue Vincent’s blog…really you should. “Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

    Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”


  5. You hit the nail on the head with every one of these! 🙂


  6. …this ol’ Jurassic is still 12 years old inside, but gets the acknowledgement occasionally from others , that ‘maybe he DOES know what he’s talking about’… LUVV the post, m’Lady, Sue 🙂


  7. G. M. Vasey says:

    I remember my nephew as a young boy asking my late Father “Grandad, what were Cavemen like?” Anytime now….


  8. alienorajt says:

    Bloody brilliant, Sue, and spot on! YAY! Hear hear! Rock on, Tommy! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. socialbridge says:

    Great post, Sue. I remember the absolute shuddering shock of hearing my mother tell someone that Dad was 40!!!!

    Yes, let’s make a million +1 mistake!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Robert says:

    Congratulations Sue, I’m way behind on your news.



  11. with 10 grands and 1 great grand, I’ve said all these and more


  12. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    Wise words as we head into the New Year…


  13. Oh, we sooooooooooo get it, Sue! We have to thank SK Nichols for point out to us we have a “sister” in the blogging world we hadn’t met yet – nice to make your acquaintance!


  14. Éilis Niamh says:

    Also learn from the mistakes you make, grow from them, smile at yourself in the mirror after them, mistakes are terrifying but on the other hand we’re already enough, we’re just putting the icing on the already remarkable cake.


  15. Giggles! I wear “comfortable” clothes now and look forward to doing so for many years to come 🙂


  16. Jamie Dedes says:

    Sue, this is marvelous. Would like to include it in the upcoming issue of The B Zine.

    Let me know if that works for you. I’m sitting here thinking we may have “talked” about another piece too. I’ll have to go back through my notes. Would need a brief bio as well. Email me at bardogroup@gmail.com

    Thanks! You really rocked with this one. All smiles here.


  17. Pete Hulme says:

    Spot on, Sue.

    This topic, though, always reminds me of King Lear’s exchange with his Fool.

    FOOL: If thou wert my Fool, Nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
    LEAR: How’s that?
    FOOL: Thou should’st not have been old till thou hadst been wise.

    (Act I: Scene 5: Arden edition – lines 41-45)

    My hope is that I might be as wise as I can get before I’m dead! Otherwise I’ll have a lot of catching up to do in the afterlife. I suppose that won’t be the end of the world though – it’s supposed to be eternal after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. connectdd says:

    Happy New Year, now get out there and make some glorious mistakes! Love it.


  19. Kate Loveton says:

    Fabulous post! Amusing, true – I loved it!


  20. Dale says:

    Fabulous post, Sue! I was a “late-bloomer” so to speak as my kids are only 15 & 16 while some of my friends have started becoming grand-parents…
    Fun stuff. I kinda like 10…


  21. Loved this post Sue. You didn’t mention the immense pleasure that comes from playing up kids and the arrogance of youth. For ages my husband used to carry around a cardboard mobile phone one of the kids made to play with when she was about 5. He used to take it out in public and talk into it just to see their little faces blush with shame. Now he’s catching up with the times. He’s made himself a cardboard tablet…


  22. mnghostt says:

    doggone. I’m using a lot of those expressions myself.


  23. OneDizzyBee says:

    Wow, this brought back so many good memories for me. Also, I’m laughing inside over how right my grandparents were. If only I could tell them that… Then again, they probably always knew 🙂


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