Officially, I’m not old. I’m too young to get a pension, and I’m not sixty yet. My pueblo organises events and trips for the “oldies”, but technically I’m too young. Technically. But thanks to last year’s heart attack, I can sneak in. The doctor “prescribed” me the Thursday gym sessions in our health centre for “los mayores”, the oldies of the village. This apparently minor decision on the doctor’s part opened a door to a new world, a world inhabited by friendly, active, welcoming, and hysterically-funny older people. You could say that this was a world into which I had not wanted to enter, but now my fears have gone.
Little by little, through the gym group, I have met more of the village oldies and made more friends. But the best of all is that membership of the gym group gives me access to the magnificent array of events organised by the wonderful Baltasar in our ayuntamiento (town hall). Balta is the supreme expert in achieving small grants from the Junta de Andalucîa and the Diputación de Málaga (the first is the big regional layer of government, and the second is the province, roughly like a County Council), as long as he can demonstrate that there is a cultural, health, or educational aspect to our trips.
So this week has been the 15th “Semana de los mayores”, the week of the oldies. We’ve been along the coast for a posh spa day (with a quick walk around the botanic gardens to justify the grant). We’ve been around Málaga bay on a boat trip (with a museum visit, captured in a photo to send with the grant report). A long country walk (with breakfast), a karaoke evening (with afternoon tea), lunch on the two day-trips, petanque (with breakfast) and dominos (with afternoon tea). You might be forgiven for thinking that much of the grant gets spent on food … !
It’s always scary getting old. You can’t help but wonder where you will be and how you will pass your later years. Especially if you are single, and especially for any woman, as we are normally the ones left behind. At the lunch in Málaga, we filed into the grand dining room, and one woman grabbed a big round table and shouted for “las solteras”, the single women. It was the table with the loudest laughter, and a fascinating conversation amongst those women who had chosen to remain unmarried. During the country walk, I was strolling and chatting with four ladies. At one point my foot slipped slightly, I wasn’t at risk of falling but the stones made that sound of someone slipping. Instantly there were eight hands supporting my arms and back, ensuring my safety. Within seconds they saw I was fine and we walked on, laughing some more. A moment that is easy to forget but actually says a lot. And throughout the week, this vibrant group of so-called oldies impressed me with their humour, their caring nature, their vitality, and their ability to engage whole-heartedly with the opportunities around them.
Getting old in my village doesn’t seem too bad. I’m less scared about “the third age”. I think I will embrace it with vigour, alongside the happy, laughing oldies of Colmenar.
© Tamara Essex 2017 http://www.twocampos.com