Growing Older: Reader Essay by Jan Meyer

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderJanMeyer_Inline300 A good friend prided herself on perfecting “the whimper.” For instance, when boarding an airplane, she would stand in the aisle, looking up at the overhead bin and down at her carry-on wheelie. Within seconds, someone—always a man—would be there to hoist it up for her. When we teased her about how she got assistance but we never did, she would say it was because she could whimper just perfectly.

After receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia, I lost my hair. Much to my chagrin, when it grew back, it was perfectly white. And all of a sudden, people were rushing to help me out and I didn’t even whimper! Once, a carryout employee at the grocery store insisted on carrying my bags for me. That person was a lot older than I, so why the rush to help?

Many such incidents have led me to conclude now that my friend wasn’t being helped because of her whimper. She had turned white at a very early age. After my experiences with my own newly white hair, I realized that her getting help had nothing to do with “the whimper.” I had been thrust headlong into old age.

After I got accustomed to all the help I was getting, I accepted that I now looked old and there was not a thing to be done about it. I have learned to enjoy—and appreciate—getting help from others!

- Jan Meyer, (B.A. ’73, M.A. ’74 Ph.D. ’86), Peoria, Arizona

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