“FOREVER 81” writer Gilda Cordero Fernando (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday Lifestyle) models for the 80 and above a waltz down memory lane beyond “Triviata.” A neighboring column, “My Chair Rocks” of Conchita Razon, not only awaits more “aha moments” from PDI readers, but also propels them to keep in step with her beat. One can’t help tapping into her vibes and rocking, too.
Swayed to share the voice of age but picking up more wisdom along the way, it’s time to break the age fixation at 80. Actually, my lady friends in their mid-60s seem to be nosy about my age. I oblige and hang on to 80 with a postscript: “I’ll be 81 by accurate account toward the end of December.”
Outright, each inquirer of younger age, with a consoling note, says, “I hope I can live that long and still be on the go.” I smile for whatever that connotes. There, too, is the family doctor who never fails to verify my age while prescribing medicine for me. He looks up when I blurt, “I’m 80, going 81 by the end of December.”
As I read his wide grin, “Hanging on to 80, huh?” must be on his mind. Just to jar his silence, I add lightheartedly, “Can’t escape from age count, indeed!” After all, my toddling steps betray me, and so does the thinning hair, not to mention age spots and facial lines despite the jars of age-defying cream. Moreover, the image at my dresser registers age without batting an eye.
After years of retirement from the Arts and Letters Department of a state college (now a university) in Baybay, Leyte, I limp around with my walking stick. Last year, I felt elated by a special request to head, for the second time after six years, the graduate school of a private college in the newly proclaimed city of Baybay.
I also teach a couple of courses and guide thesis-writing. There were times when I was almost ready to step aside, as body aches persisted in spite of various liniments, multivitamins, joint flexers, steroids and lubricant shots. The aches subside now and then, but linger to leave me in a bearable but often annoying mood.
Meanwhile, stirred by the PDI columnists, I gathered the courage to shove away the nagging pains and stride on. Certainly, there could be new ideas, more concerns and updated information from graduate students in my Saturday classes who are elementary and high school teachers in the service.
Once-distant subject matter
My pains dissipate when I am drawn to once-distant subject matter such as multigrade classes in the elementary school, the exigency of the K-12 program, attempts to operationalize Gardner’s “multiple intelligences,” a crash course on Linguistics via seminars, the recent clamor for 18 pre-elementary units expected of grade school teachers, and the study to identify oral and silent reading deficiencies in Grade 1 to Grade 6 pupils and classify their reading levels.
No longer do I spend time on lectures, as graduate students present their response to assigned tasks, sourced from the Internet and interviews of fellow teachers, at times by laptop projection, if not readable printout. We mull over some developments and drawbacks in school to contend with. If only I were computer-friendly, I would have taken up the suggestion of younger friends to go for online teaching.
Many times, school administrators require my students to report for Saturday meetings, seminars and outreach or extension service. These scheduled activities are obligatory to them, and they are therefore to be excused from Saturday classes.
Makeup tasks are inevitable, anyway. With all the concerns and activities to relate and react to, body pains are somewhat forgotten. The drive to activate more minds, as well as my own, supercedes the aches of aging beyond 80. I have to face reality and get energized, just like the 80-and-beyond writers of PDI.
Age matters after all. As Conchita Razon puts it, “It takes courage to stay the course, but we must.”