The blessings, drawbacks of being a senior senior

By Kathy Mietlicki
In the Fall of 1972, I became a “senior” – something I had looked forward to for three years. Finally, I was one of the older high school students and would be looked up to, revered, and respected.
Being a senior came with privileges such as reserved parking in the school parking lot, and special recognition at school sports and other events. The prom king and queen typically were chosen from the ranks of the seniors.
We were special! We were viewed as being experienced and having the wisdom to share with those younger than us. We all looked forward to becoming a senior, our upcoming graduation, and the next chapter in our lives with awe and anticipation.
In the fall of 2000, my husband turned 50 and received his AARP card. I was shopping for decorations for his 50th birthday and all I found was black crepe paper, black balloons, and cards about being “over the hill.” While becoming a senior in high school was a time of celebration, becoming a senior in life was a time for mourning.
Unlike our high school days, most people over 50 are trying to avoid being a senior. If only we were treated with that same reverence and respect and were looked up to as mentors for the wisdom life’s experience has given us! If only people still gave up their seats, opened doors for us, asked for our sage advice, and recognized our value. The only privilege society gives us is the option to ask for a senior discount, but then ignores the wisdom, experience, and knowledge seniors have that comes with this so-called privilege.
As seniors in high school, we had a ceremony where each of us handed a rose to a junior. If we use the remaining time in this earthly life to continue to “know him, to love him, and to serve him,” we can pass the rose onto the next generation. But will our culture let us?
Mietlicki is a member of the diocesan Senior Adult Ministries Advisory Council and Church of the Magdalen.