A decade of difference

By: Marilyn Duterte Oppus - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | October 09,2020 - 08:00 AM

I turned 70 this year. The feeling of reaching this number didn’t seem that much different from when I turned 60. It is one of mixed emotions: dreading the number, but at the same time, truly grateful that I’ve reached this age. But on second thought, a decade ago, I remembered that there was anticipation on turning 60, now that I think about it, for a laughable reason, but still a compelling one: I would finally get my senior citizen’s card. The privileges this card afforded to the cardholder are nothing to be sneezed at, so I would say it is one of the perks of reaching this age.

The past decade had brought many inevitable changes; a couple of them took me a long time to get over with: the death of my mother and my life-threatening health scare a few years ago. Despite these trials, I feel that my perspective in life had changed for the better. The years have taught me to be more positive, more tolerant, more forgiving, and certainly, to be able not to sweat the small stuff anymore. I have mellowed with age, like good wine should.

It is inexplicable, but the years that passed by felt more liberating. I have become more comfortable and content with my life. The ego that is mostly the bane of youth, and which spurred one to compete ceaselessly, is now replaced by something akin to humility. In my case, the urge to compete and keep up with one’s peers is gone. There is still a sense of pride, though, if one’s accomplishment is recognized, but it is more of a quiet satisfaction and being grateful for the blessings. The most important lesson I’ve learned in a decade of being a senior is to concentrate more on doing the things I am passionate about.

I love that I have become relaxed and carefree not just with people close to me, but also with people I have only met for the first time. The fact that people may think twice before hurting me because I am old is probably the reason I now feel at ease even with strangers. And being forthright and candid is an attitude I am still studiously cultivating, because I feel that honesty is not an excuse for hurting someone, unless the truth is absolutely necessary. I do believe in the adage that what you don’t know won’t hurt you.healt

The downside to getting old is mostly the health issue. It has become mandatory for seniors to prioritize their health and give it the utmost care. I must admit it can be extremely demoralizing not to be able to do what I used to do so easily. The normal wear and tear of old age has become a major deterrent to my passion for traveling.

Last year, I swore never again to join a group package tour. I have a bad case of osteoarthritis, and to my dismay, this package tour entails a lot of walking. It was difficult to keep up with a younger and energetic group. The lesson learned from this experience is to choose one’s travel companions, preferably of my own age bracket; this way, we can be kinder and more understanding of one another’s limitations. I would have been traveling with my girlfriends, all seniors, last May, but the pandemic overtook our plans.

The long lockdown has made me realize that there is nothing I love more than staying at home. I can never be bored at home. Sometimes, a day is not even enough to do all the things I want to do. I’ve taken up painting again, which could take up a day if I wanted to. I’ve also made time to do some rearranging of our home; I am into interior decorating, and I feel that change is essential especially since I stay put at home most of the time. Another hobby that can take my mind off the pandemic is gardening, and it is always a joy to see plants thrive and bloom.

I am truly grateful that how we live hasn’t changed much despite the pandemic. We have adjusted to the “new normal” easily: wearing mask, social distancing, and the constant washing of hands, which for us is a basic routine, anyway. In our area, seniors are allowed to go out three times a week, but usually we go out only once a week to buy groceries and medicines. Another realization from the lockdown is that retail therapy is no longer as therapeutic as before. Now I find watching movies or Korean drama series on Netflix much more relaxing. And, of course, reading will always be a joy.

In the past decade, I have become a more prayerful person. At this stage of my life, praying has become an integral part of my day. In these difficult and uncertain times, I pray unceasingly that all these shall come to pass.

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Marilyn Duterte Oppus, 70, lives in Barangay Poblacion, Baclayon, Bohol.

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