12 things your grandparents said…

From the archives – December 2014:

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.

ani 002

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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108 Responses to 12 things your grandparents said…

  1. kirizar says:

    Nicely paired–images and words. I can agree with most of it. Particularly the ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ part. Mostly I mean my youth was wasted on me. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I am not as hopeless as I feel and that life should be lived, not dreaded. I still have to remind myself of that now, though, so I suspect I would not have listened.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this, Sue. I can relate to every one of them. Threading a needle? Forget it! If we’re lucky, we all arrive at this place and there is a lot to celebrate 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sue – this is fab!


  4. Great post Sue. Love the pairings. Hubby says he’ll continue to act his shoe size. But one saying that sticks in my mind is:
    ‘Grandchildren are such fun. Wish I’d had them first!’

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mary Smith says:

    You are so right – and not only about how impossibly tiny the eye in a needle has become!


  6. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Sue nails it regarding aging 👍😃😄

    Liked by 1 person

  7. literaryeyes says:

    There’s also “People nowadays” or “Kids nowadays” and every older generation says it about the younger one! Then the older people tell hair-raising stories about what they did in their youth.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed this. It’s humorous.


  9. I absolutely love this. What I would like to know is where did you get that cartoon picture of me?


  10. franhunne4u says:

    Getting old is not for sissies … A little under 50 myself I can relate to most of that – apart from the things with children.


  11. busy lady says:

    A wonderful article. It brought to mind the “elderly” lady in my college class that I was sure was in her 50s. Many years later, I was thinking about her and realized she was probably in her late 20s or early 30s because she had two small children. Now that I am WAY BEYOND 30, I laugh at my misdiagnosis and silently asked her forgiveness for my foolishness!


  12. Judy Martin says:

    This really made me laugh Sue. I certainly prefer comfort over style and only very rarely now wedge my poor trotters into impossible-to-walk-in heels! 🙂


  13. A @ moylomenterprises says:

    Hilarious 😂


  14. tric says:

    Thanks Sue. I can think of a few ventures I’m thinking of and yes I will try and there will be mistakes. I love that attitude.
    As for going back, no thanks. My Dad was my age when he got Motor Neurone Disease. I will never take this wonderful life for granted. My mum is in her 80s and her views are more open minded than most who are decades younger.
    Great post. So much food for thought.


  15. floridaborne says:

    All excellent point


  16. floridaborne says:

    All excellent points that could knock your socks off. 🙂


  17. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful, Humorous, and I can relate to the last cartoon.


  18. Yes, yes and yes some more. :<3 😀 😀


  19. I remember asking some friends who were then in their late forties when I was in my twenties when they knew they were “grown up.” They said they’d tell me when it happened. I’m still waiting.


  20. Eliza Waters says:

    I just wish I could have my current wisdom paired with the body I had in my 20s!


  21. Terry Tyler says:

    Yes, yes, and I say all those things now…. funny how 40 seemed like the barrier when it came to being/having fun, even in one’s 20s; I remember my sister saying, when about to marry a man she didn’t love, ‘yes, but he’ll be a good person to be with when I’m 40’. By the time she was 40, she realised she had years and years left of fun and love and all the rest of it!

    I am 57 now, and the one that resonates with me the most is ‘youth is wasted on the young’. It SO is!!! This is a terrific post, Sue, I really enjoyed it.


  22. Rae Longest says:

    Point on! This says it all!


  23. Great read…going to reblog this.


  24. A @ moylomenterprises says:

    Reblogged this on Inner Ramblings Boulevard: and commented:
    When my body is still
    And my mind is allowed to drift aimlessly,
    I remember the good old days
    When dad told stories
    Which began with the phrase,
    “I remember when… ”

    Say hello to Sue Vincent. She is one of our loyal followers and her post below sent me down memory lane as she compiled quite an entertaining list of the things our grandparents said that seem ridiculous then but are so true now that we’re older. Hop on over and show your love. Enjoy! 🌷

    October 15 2016 (Showcase Reblog)


  25. Opher says:

    That was fun to read – seeing as I’m now 67 going on 17.


  26. Oh what a wonderful piece, Sue. Had me nodding and musing and remembering. Loved it and theres so much truth in it. I just love being whacky and wild, (you may have noticed), and making a fool of myself, especially for my grandkids.

    Keep ‘living’ and Keep Smiling 😊

    (Now…where did I put me stilettos….ah, over there with me tutu 😉)


  27. Reblogged this on THE PEN AND THE PAGE and commented:
    A superb piece by Sue Vincent…


  28. Pingback: 12 things your grandparents said… | GrannyMoon's Morning Feast

  29. macjam47 says:

    A great article, Sue. You hit the nail on the head.


  30. I remember my grandfather using the phrase, “as the crow flies,” as a measure of distance.


  31. noelleg44 says:

    I missed this the first time around – this is hilarious. My grandmother was a saint – I can still hear her voice telling me. “If you get up in the morning and don’t have an ache, you’re dead!”


  32. April Munday says:

    Thank you for making me laugh. I retired recently and no longer have to pretend to be a grown up. It’s wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. pinkiebag says:

    Great read and so many of the pints are true Chloe, https://pinkiebag.com/


  34. Pingback: Sunday Blog Share: 12 things your grandparents said… | Myths of the Mirror

  35. Thanks to Diana for reposting this gem…I was offline when it first came out, Sue. ☺ Very enjoyable. My husband spent a lot of time with his grands, sometimes a phrase like “you don’t want to buy a pig in a poke” comes up. He wasn’t sure why ???? ☺


    • Sue Vincent says:

      That’s a great old saying from the Middle Ages when a pig could have been sold wrapped up in a sack… except, it might not actually have been pig at all. That was expensive. Domestic animals weren’t… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Beautifully written Sue.

    ‘Age is an incident’ is that my Grandmother said when I asked her about it. She also said that it’s the body that ages, the inner self stays young.


  37. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    What kind of things did your grandparents say?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Hmmm. I loved this post. As a long time writer (over 45 years writing; published over 32 years) I have just published a book called Memories of My Childhood (and a special Christmas Magic 1959 short story) about just this subject. Getting to be the age of my grandparents. I’m looking back (especially in the Christmas story) to my youth and how my grandparents shaped me and my siblings. I would never go back to 20 or so either. I like my old age and the wisdom I have gained with the years.


  39. reocochran says:

    This was such a fun and enjoyable list of things I often say or think about, Sue! So crazy but I do realize 61 isnt “Old!” The misplaced items (not on your list but at the top of my own list!) drives me nuts and not knowing then, what I do know now! 😉


  40. Jennie says:

    Really funny!


  41. dgkaye says:

    So much truth and LOL. Just wonderful. 🙂


  42. Brilliant! “Fonts are becoming unreasonably tiny” – I’ve noticed that. Very annoying. Thank goodness for the trend for big fonts on websites. I wonder if that’s because my generation is finally becoming heads of design or whatever and realize how important it is to make text readable. It makes me real shameful for all those websites with tiny fonts I used to build as a young developer!


  43. I loved this, Sue. I especially liked the cartoon where the granddaughter asks her grandmother why she chose to be an old lady. Hilarious. I wish I remembered when I made that choice. 😀 — Suzanne


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