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In a gift store where I once worked, was a section nicknamed, “Old Farts.” In this tiny corner of the shop were figurines of pudgy old-timers taking a swing with their golf clubs or sitting in a beauty parlor hair matted in curlers. All the figures had dazed, ho-hum expressions painted on their faces.
The items in this section of the store would have just seemed cheesy and stereotypical to some but I found them laughable because they depicted images so unlike the elders in my family, specifically my grandparents.
Since I have known them, my grandparents have never frequented golf courses or walked around in public wearing hair curlers. My grandmother is the icon of fashion in my family. She always has her stockings on and you can bet her jewelry and purse complement her outfit.
My grandfather wholehardly embraces the technology age. He eagerly surfs the web and looks for the latest enhancements for his television set.
More importantly, my grandparents are adventurers. They have sailed rings around the world and have traveled to a good number of countries on the map.
When my sister and I were kids, we would travel to my grandparents’ condo in Boca Raton. Fla., for spring break. I loved to spy what new exotic, extravagant trinket they had picked up on their travels.
They have glass from Venice, a miniature stone bust of a pharaoh from Egypt, carvings of African warriors, French china, enamel soldiers from Russia and a ceramic sculpture of a goddess from Japan.
When I was a youngster, their home was like a treasure trove to me; and even better everything seems to come with a story.
As I grew up, my grandparents and their home seemed such a far cry from other families’ senior members. They were not residing in nursing homes or suffering from any health problems. Their house did not smell musty and look old-fashioned.
As a kid I didn’t know anyone else who had a grandfather who puffed away on cigars and drank martinis or a grandmother who collected Limoges boxes and cooked up complicated and elegant meals within hours.
It was naïve to think my grandparents were the only ones removed from the stereotypes of “old people.” Every day, my perception is proven wrong. In Los Alamos, there are grand parents in civic organizations, in community choirs and orchestras. They paint, write and explore the world.
My grandparents and many other senior citizens prove that lifestyles do not terminate at a certain age. There will never be a need to become an “old fart.”