Aging Jubilantly

I am not a coot. Neither am I a geezer, a buzzard, Gramps or Old Timer – and woe betide the wet-behind-the-ears johnny-come-lately who tries to brand me with the repugnant “senior citizen” or worse yet “golden-ager.”

Curmudgeon? Sometimes, for sure. Elder? I suppose, although it sounds a little priggish and high-falutin’ to my ear. To tell you the truth, I don’t much like any of the terms – Zoomer excluded – customarily draped over Those of Us Who Have Attained a Certain Measure of Maturity. Except for one. I think I could handle being labelled a jubilado. It’s pronounced “hoo-bee-LAH- dough” and it’s what Spaniards call their retirees. In English, it means pretty much what it looks like – “jubilant one.”

OH – AND HEADS UP – it’s defiantly sex-specific. Guys are jubilados; girls are jubiladas. Deal with it. And, truly, why not “jubilant ones?” Most of us who get to this age bracket are bedecked and festooned with reasons to celebrate. We are less encumbered than we’ve ever been in our lives. The kids are grown and unleashed. The mortgage, if not paid off, is under control. We wear what we choose, get up when we please and no longer give a fig about rush-hour commutes, layoffs, pro- or de-motions or the emotional ups and downs of the psycho boss in the corner office. We can choose to watch the sunrise or plump the pillow over our head; walk the dog or slurp margaritas in a hammock; spend the afternoon with a good book or catch a baseball game on the tube.

WHAT’S NOT to be jubilant about?

Alas, our society discourages jubilation in its jubilados. We’re treated more like hockey players past their prime. There’s a sense we’ve been put out to pasture, sent home with a gold Timex and a permanent time-out. We’ve done our stretch and nothing further is expected of us. We can sit back, relax and fade into the wallpaper.

Well, screw that. I choose to be a jubilado. I’m going to make noise, dance up a storm, kick up some dust, raise a little hell and generally make some whoopie. Why not? It feels good to be a jubilado.

Anybody can get older. Hell, boulders do that. The trick is to age in style. Some choose to do it by diversion – two weeks in Maui, a few rounds of golf, tickets to see the Jets or Leonard Cohen, a shopping spree through Holt Renfrew or Lululemon – they all make you feel good, if only for a little while. Others turn their focus outward, embracing volunteerism, philanthropy or the simple care and nurturing of friends and family. Still others go out and buy themselves a flamboyant red hat. Aging well doesn’t have to be a 180-degree U-turn. It can be a simple shift in your colour spectrum. Jenny Joseph showed us that when she wrote a hit poem entitled When I Grow Old, I Shall Wear Purple. Take your choice and fill your boots. But do it joyously, jubilantly. And me? You can colour me purple. In a cherry-red Stetson.