2016-01-21 / Senior Savvy

Reflections Upon Reaching 85

By Florence Archambault

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. When I turned 85 last year, someone asked me how it felt to be 85 years old. I thought for a moment and told them I really didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. I wondered if there was some kind of a manual available which would tell one how to feel at certain ages, but I never could find one.

I feel astonished at living this long, but then my mom was almost 97 when she died 10 years ago. Physically I feel pretty good, although there are times when I feel 100 years old. My health problems are all minor and under control on the whole.

Inside I don’t feel old. I still think I can do the same things I’ve been doing all my life, but sometimes at a slower pace. I look in the mirror and sometimes I see my mother. That can be a good thing or bad, however you look at it.

One of the perks of being over 80 is the attention one gets from relatives and friends and the aid and assistance that is forthcoming if one is smart enough to ask for it. One of the disadvantages is knowing that you can’t move as fast as you used to or accomplish as much as you did 10 or 20 years ago. It’s time to slow down and smell the roses. I have, however, managed to stay as active as I have always been, although sometimes it is a little bit wearing energy-wise.

One of the sad things about getting to be this age is that my circle of friends and relatives is shrinking through their deaths. This year I lost two friends of over 60 years. I was fortunate to be in contact with one of them shortly before she died, and that was good. We had some nice memories of growing up and graduating from high school together.

The other one was a Navy friend from Chelsea Naval Hospital when we were stationed there in the early 50s. When her Christmas card was returned stamped undeliverable, I somehow knew something was wrong. We hadn’t seen each other in all that time, maybe 50 years, but every year wrote at Christmas and brought each other up to date on our families. So I Googled the Bangor, Maine newspaper and found her obituary from last April.

I think we should all make a list of those we would like to have notified of our demise so they won’t be wondering what happened to us. Maybe just give the kids the Christmas card list. I have several people that I didn’t hear from this year, but the cards weren’t returned. Maybe they are ill, who knows?

So how does it feel to be 85, coming up on 86? Mentally, I don’t find much difference. I’m still involved in some of the many things I was involved in over the years, plus some new ones. I am aware that I need to slow down a little and quite often my body forces me to do so. I believe the key to remaining young at heart is to keep busy and keep active if you are physically able.

One of the blessings of being this age is the opportunity it has given me to watch my grandchildren grow up, mature, and make lives for themselves, but best of all is getting to know my nine greatgrandchildren and being a part of their lives. Perhaps sometime in the future they will remember their old great-grandmother. That is a great form of immortality!

I guess I could say that I really don’t feel any different now than I did over the years. It’s just the packaging that has changed.

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