Senior Demeanor – Finding a way to define seniors

by Dorothy Weismiller

After looking in five different dictionaries, I finally found a meaning for the word ‘seniors’ that I agree with. It is this: Senior: superior in rank and standing. I like that definition. It beats older and doting all hollow.

Most of the seniors I see both in public and in their homes fit the “superior” definition and so we will go with that. Of course we have our little faults – like saying, “ It wasn’t that way when we were young-we had to walk three miles to school.”

And on we go with our lectures on how good and pure we were when we were young -never answering back, always making the right decisions but you know I can still work in the idea of being superior even if it means “ ye gotta respect me – I’ve lived longer than you.”

One thing we are superior with is remembering little anecdotes from our childhood -these are the teaching tools for children today and the way we compare yesterday to today. I think we do this so that our grandchildren will understand us better -not necessarily to say we were better but we lived a different way and want to tell them about it. We want them to share in our childhood – it would give them perspective to help them face the much more complicated childhood of today.

One of those anecdotes was recalled when a lightbulb burned out in the basement stairway as my little granddaughter reached for the switch. She and I sat on the step hand in hand while I told her we never had a basement when I was young -we had a cellar. We had to carry a coal-oil lantern to light the stairs. You lit the lantern at the third step down the steep stairway and made your way down to the white-washed cavern to a big table covered with a sheet – you lifted the sheet and there were all the perishables like the milk you were sent down for. By then you could see the shelves lined with quarts of saskatoons, peaches and apricots that had been canned the previous summer. If you were sent for meat, you might choose a pork loin from the crock of icy brine. When you opened the cover, the odor of the brine reached you and you wondered if you wanted to dig your hands in to pick up the meat… or even more if you ever wanted to eat meat again.

It felt strange down there in the dark, musty cellar, where you only went when you absolutely had to. You noticed that the house sounds were muffled and the air was filled with the smell of coal dust, stored vegetables and buttermilk. If you were barefoot, you might notice small lizards underfoot or your brother had told you they were lizards -I told myself they were rocks.

“Gee, you would had fun when you were small, Grandma” my granddaughter’s little voice said.

Yes, it’s fun to be a senior, too.