Am I Really That Old?

It has happened. I had some idea it would, more of a hint really. I heard rumours, of course, and I had the tiniest inkling the gossip might be founded on fact. The proof showed itself when I checked my bank account and sure enough, my very first OAS deposit has been made (or will be made by the time you read this).
OAS. How is that possible? It wasn’t long ago I was playing hopscotch, bouncing a ball against Alberton Central School’s wall in a game called Bingo, trying to conquer double-dutch skipping, happily playing marbles though unwilling to risk my purees and cat’s eyes, racing Earl and Prince with my pony and never winning, building forts in the hay and swinging from a rope in the barn. I merely blinked and now the government tells me I qualify for some benefit with the descriptor of Old Age in front of it. What is this madness?
Does being 65 really qualify one to be considered in the realm of the aged? David Bowie said, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” He died at sixty-nine and he was still very young in my opinion. I’m not sure I completely agree with his missive. I don’t think we can be who we are in old age, if we must call it that, without having first survived the lessons of growing up. Perhaps Bowie’s quote could be amended, and the word “should” be removed. Should reeks of regret. Regret and disappointment are considered close relatives, yet disappointment could very well be the wisest of teachers and, as Henry David Thoreau says, “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”
Let’s get back to the name of this generous gift. Surely, we could be more creative in designating this rite of passage. Unemployment Insurance Benefits were created in 1940 and renamed in 1996 to Employment Insurance. Workman’s Compensation saw legislation in 1886, was renamed Workers’ Compensation in 1981 and is now referred to as Workplace Safety Insurance in Ontario. So, the evidence exists where names of government programs can be changed.
Old Age Security came into being in 1927 as an anti-poverty measure, paying out a whopping twenty dollars a month, a program that humiliated the elderly who qualified. It was reformed in 1951, with benefits skyrocketing to forty dollars a month. During all these almost one hundred years, the name has stuck. Unfortunately.
I was trying to come up with a new acronym that didn’t imply we had one foot in the grave once we started receiving our well-earned handout. I thought HDTH Benefit might be fun – How Did This Happen. SHALL Benefit – Still Having A Lotta Laughs. THAT Benefit – Things Hurt All the Time. We have CPP Benefits, so why not CFF Benefits – Cash For Fun.
I’m pretty sure those are not very good ideas, but I am not old and I’m offended by the notion that we have to be classified in such a manner. Sure, my knees make funny noises and some or most mornings I feel like I was busy running a marathon all night judging by my movement as I crawl from bed, but age is just a number. The reflection in the mirror tells me I am no longer a youngster, but I feel exactly the same inside as I did forty years ago, with a hint more wisdom. Bring on the cash!
wendistewart@live.ca

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail