All posts in the age category

I can’t help it….

Published September 6, 2022 by Nan Mykel

OBSERVATION –  If you want to get ideas for your post, lie awake for an hour after opening your eyes first thing in the morning.  Or better not, if you’re prone to drowning in them. –Not great ideas. mind you, and not really manic.  So they won’t flood into the next morning, rather than  bore readers with too many posts, I have started bundling them together under one heading—“I can’t help it…”  Today I’ll pick the following:


MATURING –  Oh, I could write an entire book on the topic.  But don’t worry, I won.t.  Meditations about aging:  I’m gratified for re-discovering my ankles.  If that doesn’t ring a bell then you’re not old enough.


AGING CAN BE FUN…if you’re don’t mind dying.  If you live long enough dying is seen as restful and pain free, if you have been good and aren’t afraid of hell.


LET’S HEAR IT for dark humor!  Nothing wrong with laughing, and it lets your endorphins flow…Maybe I told you that I woke up the other day to find three people in my bedroom, checking to see if I was dead.  (I don’t sleep with my hearing aids on)


THIS ISN’T FUNNY AT ALL and maybe I told you already:  When time changed recently (it was recent, wasn;t it?} I wasn’t informed, and missed my  scheduled local old folks ride.  The next time, I missed my ride home from Walmart because the machine kept rejecting my charge card too often for me to catch the ride home.  I walked around  Walmart asking strangers  “Are you a driver?” thinking maybe my driver was looking for me.  I TAKE THAT BACK–I guess it IS funny if looked at the right way, else I wouldn’t have included it.  I do have the fortuitous habit of laughing at myself when I drop things (often I’m laughing all day because of it).  Anyway, apparently the two-dollar ride folks have had enough of my standing them up.  It’s more difficult to get them to pick me up for my every other Tuesday poetry group meeting at the Library now.  But I’m laughing at the spectacle and telling you about it, aren’t I?  They were glad to give me the phone number for the local bus, but I learned that the bus folks have canceled morning pickups due to driver shortage.  Now where’s the humor in that?  (Maybe acknowledging that I shouldn’t have run into the back of that other car several years ago and given up my own car to the towing man.)  Smile.  (I still don’t believe their turn signals were working.)


MY GRANDMOTHER used to say, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”  Ain’t that the truth! (Smile).


Published September 4, 2022 by Nan Mykel

I won’t say I’m old any more.  I’ll say “well-seasoned”.  Well, in my state of being well-seasoned my mind continues to pop up ancient jingles.  Sometimes they are followed by memories associated with them.  For instance, the phrase “would you rather be a mule?”  Thanks to Google, I found the line to be from a 1944 Bing Crosby song, “Swinging On A Star”:

Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jarAnd be better off than you areOr would you rather be a mule… › 
The phrase reignited  an early school memory.  In my mind’s eye I was in the first grade, but if it was really 1944 then it must have been in the fourth grade.  Somehow I was singing (aloud) to myself in the classroom and sang “Or would you rather be a queer?”
For some reason there was an indrawn breath and the voice of my teacher said reassuringly, “she doesn’t even know what that means.”
She was right, and I didn’t find out until much later, but the memory hung on.  That happens often–something that doesn’t hang together much has a spot in my head avaiable for correct construction years later (as in well-seasoned).
Another re-visited edifying memory involves an occasion when my immediate family were living on Austin Drive in Charlotte.  (You need to know my mother was as bad a housekeeper as I am), and I remember the four of us standing outside on the front porch of the the 2-bedroomed asbestos-covered house greeting a visiting couple who stayed at the bottom of the front steps.  My folks remained standing on the front porrch while greeting them, and the couple stayed on the front walk.
After a very brief time the couple left and I asked, “Who was that?
My father answered “just some social climbers”,  a puzzling remark until recently, when I realized that was a joke….

What Over the Hill Looks Like

Published August 28, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Three years ago the following  (by me) was published in The Avalon Review:

RELAX — the image is not really me


Smooth sailing,  that’s what it’s like.  If you get old enough folks don’t expect much out of you anyway, so take out your hearing aids and get comfy.  Finally, you can just ignore the aches and pains that aren’t the real you, and  enjoy what’s been bubbling up inside all these years.

Honor yourself and let the creative juices flow.  You’re free to mix up the years, even the people if you want.  Get out the crayons, the paints, scoot up to a computer and let ‘er rip.  You’ve seen a lot, got good stories under your belt.  Get them on paper and even if they won’t listen, they can read them some day, or you can sneak them out of the house  and tell others.

When you kick the bucket you’ll be the center of attention.  O the tears, the lament!  They’ll be interested then. They’ll realize they don’t know the stories of their own family.  Too late now to ask.

Don’t get bitter. Did you behave any better yourself?  Let it all go.  Make collages out of pictures in magazines!   Try playing with words.  You’re a poet and didn’t know it?  Now you know.

Have you heard that they’re encouraging folks to get into music, if they haven’t when growing up?  They say music keeps you young–if you want to be young.  Remember those old-time fiddlers and washboard musicians? And the foot-tapping?

I say “you” when I really mean “me,” or “us.”  We’ll write down our dreams and share. Don’t have to tell the young everything!  Just in time, they’ve invented flash fiction.  It’s the new style and it comes in handy when you start doing things in spurts.  Remember it’s not over until the ice man cometh, or  some such thing.


Published August 23, 2022 by Nan Mykel




My family thinks I’m paranoid, but I’m thinking I’m Miss Pollyanna and too trusting.

I just put two and two together and got four, instead of five… I never realized that mankind/womankind has tipped the scales so that dark colors are associated with death and dying. And age.  The symbolic slur occurs even in gift giving of new clothes.  Somehow, folks seem to feel more comfortable easing oldsters out of tbe limelight by relegating them to the dark side.

The first time I realized this (okay, suspected this), was when one of my children warned me not to give my young nieces any jewelry with brown stones in it.  (I often gave fossilized jewelry of the darker kind),  “because they won’t wear it.”

Then I looked in my closet.  Am I molded (thanks, Darwin!) to dressing myself precipitously in the colors of the cold, cold ground?  Quoth the raven (and me) “Nevermore!”

(Image is of Granny D, who completed her 3,200 mile walk for campaign finance reform, from California to Washington D.C., arriving in 2000 at the age of ninety.  I’m pretty sure she selected her own color in which to march for campaign reform.)


Published March 1, 2022 by Nan Mykel
 Image: Pixabay

           KEEPIN’  ON

Don’t say why, say how.

Why presupposes an

unattainable degree

of reason, as in truth.

Happiness happened

in graduate school, with

wonder and growing edges

always in process,

Connecting in the same

tongue searching for the

how, puzzled  by all the

unsolved mysteries

All the learning not

yet used!  The flying bishop,

prophetic dreams, who,

what when where how

The tip of the plow

still unearthing that

which might be now

or in the future.

Could quantum mechanics,

going with the flow, free us

to occupy a niche in

our haunted cave?

I’m still curious and

not willing to leave my

lust for understanding

back with my bones.

Should that occur, I shall

go out hollering and hope

to transition into someone

else’s Muse.

My Memory Is Me

Published March 24, 2020 by Nan Mykel

I’m not what you see at 83.

I’m so much more, almost

filled to the top–

with a little room to grow.

The touch of velvet is still

alive in me; the fig tree

and the good hard red clay.

Grandmother’s good soft lap and

the fragrance of the land

after the rainfall. And oh my,

the comfortable settling of

coal in the grate in the dark.

Childhood fills one big toe. Yet

as you see, I could go on and

on ’til one of us fell asleep.


Nan  10/19/15

(I must have said 83 to make it rhyme–5 years later I’m now 84



Reblog of Anonymous Poem

Published February 3, 2020 by Nan Mykel

This is a reblog of  a poem that appeared in Guy’s Hospital Gazette,  the Newsletter of Greenwich District Hospital, London, on February 2, 1974. It was written by a lady in a geriatric ward and found in her locker after she died by staff who thought her incapable of writing.


What do you see, nurses, what do you see?

Are you thinking when you are looking at me–

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit with far away eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,

When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try.”

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still

As I rise at your bidding , as I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother

Brothers and sister who love one another;

A bride soon at twenty my heart gives a leap

Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;

At twenty-five now I have young of my own

Who need me to build a secure happy home;

At fifty once more babies play round my knee,

again we know children, my loved one and me;

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead

I look to the future I shudder with dread.

My young are all busy rearing young of their own.

And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m an old woman now and Nature is cruel

‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart.

There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcase a young girl still dwells

And now and again my battered heart swells,

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

And I’m loving and living all over again.

And I think of the years all too few–gone too fast

And accept the stark fact that nothing will last.

So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,

Not a crabbit old woman, look closer–see me!

Philosophical Flash Fiction

Published December 30, 2019 by Nan Mykel

I think I’m one of the handful of our species who still carry a few Neanderthal genes in their DNA (another fantasy, or it could be truth?) I withdraw to my inner cave for comfort, also when frightened by the antics of my universe.

The entrance to my cave is narrow, if not hidden, and its roof everpresent, overhead and revealed by the spirits of the night. Inside I most often experience protection and shelter, but then unpredictably, for no reason, the sky is rent and the displeasure of the spirits falls through.  In 1971, without warning, joy morphed into fear as my precious wombling appeared, both mongoloid and terminal.  Fear had pelted from my sky, so long protecting.

The sins of the fathers, surely not mine?  I watched the rent in the sky, distrusting its false reassurance. .

Years passed, propitiation helping maintain the fabric of the sky, until the sky was rent again and again and the size of my haven shrank.  After years of succor by the cave spirits, fear moved in, and the floor of my cave became unstable.  Retribution was upon both me and the few family and clan mates who also had sought succor.

Expatiation for what?  As we look on, age, disease and a mysterious silence fills the cave.  A shepherd’s crook reaches down and snuffs out its own.  Finally, overhead, rocks begin to fall from the sky of my refuge and we crawl out to discover a frighteningly similar world.

The scene in this sprawling land of mountain crags of cautious and fearful humans creeping out from their places of temporary refuge feels somehow archetypal.  I look up and wonder, is this a new day or a new night?

285 words




WHO? poem

Published December 1, 2019 by Nan Mykel

Our grandparents live

only in our memories. When we go,

they go.

Why care if we’re forgot?

                                           As if we never were?

                                           I speak of myself, now:

                                             Why do I care if I am forgot?

                                            As if I never was, never

                                              strove to overcome my limitations,

                                           only partly successful, yearning yet afraid?

                                            If truth be told, my heart is rusted

                                         from underuse.

                                           My children and grandchildren

                                          know this. Perhaps

                                        being forgot is not

                                   so bad after all.


Nan, Common Threads, 2012


My Mental Mire

Published October 12, 2019 by Nan Mykel

On my fifth birthday, riding on the swinging garage doors, I wondered about life. I wondered about the essence of awareness of conscious existence. Why was there no connection between my awareness and that of others?  What did existing entail?  My first five years had only served to confuse.

I saw two sets of worlds: the world of myself as against all others, and the world of children as against adults.  I never believed I would grow up. Not really.  One thing worried me especially: would I essentially change as I grew up, or would the me of myself remain constant?

That afternoon by the garage on my fifth birthday I resolved to keep in contact with myself. From birthday to birthday. I promised myself on my fifth birthday. I promised myself to keep in touch with myself on every proceeding birthday.  More times than not, I keep the faith. I re-familiarize myself with the five year old and touch base.

Not long ago I came across a letter written five years after that fifth birthday. It was addressed to the me of the future.  It read:

Hello, How are you?  What do you think?  Have you changed? 

Of course I’ve changed, and for the worse, as do all people growing up. Childhood is the age of innocence and wonder and faith in the infallibility of adults.  Since my childhood my innocence has been tainted by knowledge,  my wonder has been dulled by complacency, and my faith in mankind has been demoralized by observation.  I can still remember the  jarring shock I received when I saw an adult act in childish temper.

I feel somehow guilty  that I have changed. It seems I should have kept the girl of five alive to a greater extent than I have.  I make compensation to some degree on my birthdays, when I remember.




You - philosophical, thoughtful, witty. Me - still thinks fart jokes are funny. We should DEFINITELY get together!

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