AARP’s not just for mom anymore

Pam Droog Jones

Pam Droog Jones, St. Louis Jewish Light

Long ago when I’d visit my mom at Covenant House she’d frequently have a stack of magazines for me. Well into her 70s and even 80s she continued to subscribe to Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s and Redbook—magazines typically associated with young homemakers. I asked her, Why do you still get these? I like to look at the recipes, she said. That was funny considering she rarely cooked once she moved into Covenant House and established herself at the “popular” table in the dining room. 

Mom occasionally tried to give me the AARP magazine, called Modern Maturity then. I always had the same reaction: This magazine is for OLD PEOPLE. She’d say, There are some interesting articles in it. I’d dramatically toss it to the other end of the table, barely hiding my disgust.

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You can imagine who reads the AARP magazine now. Mom was right about the interesting articles—it just took a few decades for me to catch on. I am troubled, however, by the plastic-surgeried, face-lifted, botoxed and blow-dried celebrities that sometimes appear on the cover (Robert Redford, what have you done?). But I’m equally troubled by aging celebrities who don’t try to hide it. Either way, seeing famous people my age getting old freaks me out.

I like the AARP Bulletin, too, even though mostly it tells me what to do with money I don’t have. Sometimes a little tidbit really speaks to me, though, like “The Healing Paws of Pets,” about how hospitals increasingly allow patients’ dogs and cats to come visit. Recently when I had hip replacement surgery I told the nurse I wished my little dachshund Charley could come over. He can, she said. I instantly imagined my sweet little friend, there to soothe me in my hospital bed. But just as quickly I came to my senses and realized Charley would have been much more traumatized than I would have been comforted. He stayed home, and I came home to his wiggly welcome a few days later.