Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Not Spry

Posted on by in Aging

by Mary Hiland

Have you ever asked someone for an opinion about something you own or some aspect of your appearance or personality, and the response is not quite flattering? Maybe interesting, or unusual, or striking, or unique, but it’s not really a compliment?

Yesterday, someone thought she was paying me a compliment by saying I was agile and spry. Spry! That’s a word you use for an old person who has a bounce in her step or who doesn’t groan with pain each time she moves.

When I hear the word “spry,” I have a picture in my mind of an 80-year-old white-haired little old lady in tennis shoes. I’m sure this woman didn’t mean to insult me, but that word landed on my vanity with a thud. Spry belongs in the same sentence with Granny, another moniker I’m thankful not to have been cursed with. Grandma is bad enough.

If you think I’m not accepting my age, you would be right. I have always had difficulty accepting my blindness, and that’s 1 reason I strive to knock it aside when I’m on my way to accomplishing a task or a goal. Now here I am, nearing the end of my 60s, and denying the consequences.

I refuse to be the stereotypical senior citizen, but actually, today’s stereotype is much different from the picture of an older person that was my youthful perception. These days, grannies are running races, swimming laps, cycling for hours, roller-blading, skiing, and engaging in any number of active pursuits that used to be reserved for the young.

And we’re not spry! I now have a new description of myself that innocent well-meaning people offend me with. I am not “amazing,” and I’m not “spry.”

About the Author

Mary Hiland, a native of Cincinnati, lives in Gahanna, Ohio, with her Seeing Eye® dog, Dora. She is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in Social Work. She recently retired as Executive Director of The American Council of the Blind of Ohio. Before that, she served for over 21 years as Director of Volunteers for VOICEcorps Reading Service. Ms. Hiland has been published in Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul, Redbook magazine, Toastmaster magazine, and The Columbus Dispatch, and is the author of The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir. In 2001, Ms. Hiland carried the Olympic torch, and in 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from her local Toastmasters Club. Ms. Hiland has two adult children and five granddaughters. For more, visit

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2 thoughts on “Not Spry”

  1. David Cousland says:

    Mary. I love your ‘not spry’ etc. I’m 67 and play golf (quite badly) 3 times per week. I started writing just 5 years ago and enjoy seeing words hit my computer keyboard. During the last 2 years I’ve been very fortunate to travel to Portugal and Turkey on golfing breaks plus Russia last fall. We’re off for a long weekend in Krakow (Poland) soon and will be touring the Canadian Rockies in July. It’s fab doing all of these things but then it’s a challenge to pay for them all. My savings are disappearing far too quickly these days. Basically I’m in my teenage years and don’t give a stuff for convention etc. I’m not planning to retire from anything and aim to be just as crazy when I’m 80 or 90 (hopefully). Never grow old and ignore all of the experts telling you to do this and that, eat this and so on. Happy days to you xx

    1. Mary Hiland says:

      David, Don’t worry about the money you are spending on your quality of life. You can’t take it with you, as they say. Meanwhile, celebrate your health, fitness, and fun.

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