Unbounded Courage

Elita is back on publishing her thoughts on life as a senior. When I was in high school I wanted to be a senior. When I went back to college at age 33 with a husband, two kids age 5 and 9, I could hardly wait to get that college degree at that 'late age’. The teens in my college class, the first one Psychology 101 thought me an old lady at 33.5 years of age.

However, I was the only one in the whole class who came to class and who studied and got all A's at that 'advanced' age.

Being a senior now at age 76 is hard sometimes and other times is fun. People open the doors for you in office buildings, hold the elevator door open for you because you are walking a bit slower due to falling down a curb on July 2 2010 in front of hair salon I had just frequented. People are more polite on the phone when you are buying something via the phone if they know you are a senior.

However senior in the beginning meant over 65. Now people are being called seniors at age 55 because AARP sends you notices to join at 50-55. I know of a doctor of mine who was 'insulted' when at age 50 he got the invitation to join AARP.

My little 5 year old grandson # 3 ( I have 3 grandsons and one granddaughter) said to me on the phone the other night,

"Grammie how are your legs feeling? I missed seeing you last Sunday when you did not come to visit me." He lives in Northern Virginia and we did not go last week because he and his sister had a cough and we were getting the Flu shots the next day and did not want to catch maybe a cold coming on the children. So my daughter-in-law must have explained why we did not come to him and said we did not come because of my legs etc which was easier than saying you kids have a cough etc.

Ethan does not look at his grandfather Jerry and me Grammie Elita as if we are old. He has the other set of grandparents who are Asian and he does not look at them as being different either. So to kids of this age, we are just people, we are their grandparents and he knows that his daddy (my son) is his daddy and his daddy is my
little boy still.

It is how we look at things that defines our life and personality. I have after not having for thirteen years a housekeeper person (use to be called maids) helping us out with cleaning and other household needs and he is a man. Usually it was women who did this type of work and I had my wonderful Lucille for thirty-three years who was that to us. She became a member of my family so to speak and when Mom died, she came to the funeral, when my son was Bar Mitzvah, she came to the celebration ceremony and when my daughter got married, she came to the wedding as a guest because she was like family. In the short time, he has come to us every third Saturday to do housework, he has become almost more than a man maid or man housekeeper. He respects our age and when he sees something that maybe hazardous for us in the house, he tries to correct it.

He saw metal strips between a ceramic tile foyer and the adjoining bedrooms areas. He said to me these are dangerous, you and Mr. Jerry ( he calls him that out of respect, me he is smart enough to call me Gorgeous). He brought the next 3rd week he came to work for us three beautiful hardwood strips called transition strips and he took up the metal strips and hammered in the wood strips. Actually, they should have been installed fifteen years ago with the wood strips but the company doing it did not do it and I never realized it should have been done the wood way. Anyway, I who have many possessions and material things have gotten such joy and pleasure every time I walk by or over these transition piece of hardwood, you would think it was a new five hundred dollar addition to my lovely home. They are only three pieces of tan hardwood flooring between blue ceramic tiles and the wood of the next room. It seems silly that I would feel such delight in such a simple thing. Maybe being a senior makes you appreciate such modest happenings.

So the way we look at ourselves and our lives is designated by how we feel about ourselves. When I was heavier in weight, I still knew it was ME just with some added padding. When I lost weight it was still ME in a slimmer outfit of skin and bones.

It was still me, daughter of my late parents, sister of my late brother, wife of my husband for 50 years, dance partner of my ballroom dance teachers, aunt to my niece and nephews, mother of my son and daughter, mother-in-law to my children's spouses, grandmother of three grandsons and one granddaughter, friend to my friends, great aunt to my two great nephews and one great niece and their respective spouses and last but not least I became a great, great aunty-2greats to a great great nephew last September 09. Believe me, that is a great, great accomplishment.

So perceive yourself as being a great, great person whether you are a bit heavy, a bit balding, a bit sad sometimes, a bit not liking your hair some days, not liking your job if still working and not liking lots of things. Think of yourself as wonderful. I went out with a young man when I was about 22 and his brother had just written and produced a play on Broadway called Mr. Wonderful. That is a good title to keep in your thoughts about yourself. Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful at all times.

My friend Robert Jacob Meyer who was the editor-in-chief of a magazine called
Amateur Dancers and I wrote for the magazine for seventeen years told me recently in an email "E (that is me) Don't ever let your creative soul be repressed or intimidated." That is a good thought for all of us seniors, do not let our soul be repressed or intimidated because we are seniors. We are still Golden Seniors and shall be that way forever. In fact, platinum is better than gold, we can call ourselves Platinum Plus Seniors. We are still vigorous, full of vim, vitality and vision. Vision to see before us elegant, educated and expressive elders


In an obituary this morning about a very accomplished man who passed on, they quote his daughter who said “dad never had any heroes to follow. He said you have  to be your own hero.” That is a good line, we can become our own hero and then we will have accomplished as someone said- we will have unbounded courage and compassion.


Elita Sohmer Clayman January 2011

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Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL