That saying is old and trite, but true. When I was younger I thought old people were funny. I sympathized with their various issues, mostly difficulty in getting around and moaning when they arose from a chair. Little did I realize that was just the tip of the generational iceberg.
When I was a child and a teen, a year seemed like a long time and my energy seemed inexhaustible. When I entered high school, graduation, a mere four years hence, was barely conceivable.
It seems like only yesterday I celebrated my 55th birthday and said farewell to my office job and hello to a new chapter in my life. Even so, I’ve arrived at the point where I’m trying to decide how to celebrate my 72nd birthday. Napping? Getting dressed ad doing something fun with my daughters? Definitely, something fun. I’m not that old yet.
Did I say something about inexhaustible energy? Now I have inexhaustible exhaustion. And, that is just the beginning. Those chili dinners I used to enjoy? Hah! Well, maybe a small bowl – if I stock up on Maalox. Hike all day with one short bathroom break? How about walking a block with five bathroom breaks? Late to bed and early to rise, jump in the shower and head to work? Let’s make that early to bed – late to rise, still in my pajamas, leisurely sipping coffee while reading the newspaper.
All that time in front of the mirror to be sure my hair and make-up are impeccable? Remember those fashionable hair-dos, pillbox hats and little wool or linen suits with matching pumps that were popular in the 60s when we all tried to look like Jackie Kennedy? They’ve been replaced. My once steady hand now applies mascara with a paint brush. I can’t hit the target with anything smaller. Pillbox hates, suits and pumps? Hah! Jeans and a t-shirt are the uniform of the day, completed by a baseball cap and a dirty pair of New Balance walking shoes. That is, if I decide to get dressed.
Then there was yard work, mow the grass, rake the cuttings, weed the flower beds and trim the shrubs. How I step outside and notice a dandelion. Isn’t that bright yellow pretty against the tall, green grass? I say that bending and lifting are best left to younger folks. When I had a family to feel I cooked well-balanced, nutritious, delicious meals. Now there is no one else to feed, so a complete meal consists of eggs and hash browns with a few carrot sticks. And, if that is too much work, a peanut butter-spinach wrap works just as well.
I used to put on a pretty nightgown and brush my hair before retiring for the evening with the love of my life. Now, I jump in bed and cuddle up to my c-pap machine and a good book. There’s a lot to be said for drifting off to a story of someone else’s adventures.
When younger I would go to bed worried about what might happen and how I would cope with the latest emergency. Now, I go to bed and feel grateful that most of my body parts still work in a reasonable facsimile of the way they were designed. Perfection is for young people. Gratitude for a life (mostly) well-lived is for those of us who have been around the block a few times.
Sharon Dillon, January 23, 2018