The Day I Became Ma’am

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

CHITCHAT:  I have changed my banner photo on this blog website as I’m sure my regular followers have noticed.  For those of you who receive my blog in other forms, click here to see the new banner photo:  It is now a picture of me at a book fair selling my memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class.  However, that is the only thing that has changed.  The blog and its theme are the same.

Now, on to my blog:

Policeman IISome events make an immediate and abrupt change in our lives.  When you have a baby, one moment you’re not the parent of (insert the long pondered name you gave your adorable offspring), and the next moment you are, and your life is never the same. When you’re involved in a major accident, one moment you don’t have four broken limbs and a fractured skull, and the next moment you do, and your life is never the same.

Most changes to our lives, however, come on minutely with the aging process. We don’t notice it as the progression is so gradual.  It’s only over months or more likely years that we clock the transformations.

Of course, you evolve from instant to instant.  But, what is the exact moment that you morphed from one major phase of your life to the next? I remember the day someone first called me ma’am. I was in my late teens and still felt like a kid. I was crossing a busy intersection directed by a police officer who was hurrying people along.

“Move it, ma’am,” he yelled in an irritated voice.

I didn’t even know who he was talking to, but I was sure it wasn’t me.  After all, I certainly wasn’t old enough to be a ma’am. I glanced at him and saw that he was glaring at me impatiently as he waved his arms directing the traffic.  It shocked me; I’d never been called ma’am before. When did I go from being a miss to a ma’am?

I’m now asking that question in my senior years. When was the day, the hour, the minute, the second that I actually became a senior? I’m not sure? I look in the mirror and wonder who that is gazing back at me pondering the same question.

It’s hard passing through the stages of our lives.  However, we have no choice.  If we’re alive, we can only move forward toward the inescapable, like it or not.  The takeaway here is that our mental thoughts and emotional identity often lag behind our physical strength and appearance. What we think of ourselves is not necessarily how the world views us. We must be aware of the difference between the two.  That leaves the only consideration: how we deal with it.

Some rail against aging, trying as hard as they can to avoid it, reject it, disguise it.  You may convince yourself that you’ve done so, but it’s not true.  Others can see through your little guise even if you can’t or choose not to.

Being a ma’am didn’t make me any different than I was the day before.  It’s just a word, not a description of my character, personality, lifestyle, and beliefs.  I’m no longer the immature young woman I was then having transformed ever so slowly into the mature senior I am now.  That process was going to happen no matter my machinations along the journey.

So, one alternative is to accept and embrace your age whatever it may be at any moment.  Stop fighting the process and go with the flow as the kids say.  It will make your life easier, richer, and more enjoyable as you amble along that inevitable path.


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Photo credit: Björn Söderqvist via /  CC BY-SA

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Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

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