I am 90. Age is my merit badge. I’ve worked very hard to get to this point: surgeries, physical therapies, years of daily exercise even when in pain. I believe that my wrinkles, spotted complexion and my stooped shoulders are installment payments for my life. Millions never live long enough to find those images in their mirrors.

Ageism is when things are withheld from people based on how long they have lived, like employment. There are many things we get because we are old. Bus drivers give us that extra time to board. Strangers hold doors for us or rush to help us when we struggle with heavy packages. Children find us interesting and delight in flapping those “chicken wings” under our arms. And yes, clerks ask us if we would like the gift of a senior discount.

I am grateful for the skills and compassion of doctors, therapists and others who have helped me along these 90 years. I am grateful for those who look me in the eye and smile when they pass me on the street. Call me “old,” please.

Sharon Bond, Bellevue