AS I GET OLDER
I will be sixty this year and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my life has changed. From some of the articles I’ve been reading by folks in my age range, I believe there is a lot of this going on. There seems to be three groups of thinking about this subject.
1.) You are as old as you feel and if you remain active both physically and mentally, there is no reason your age should determine or interfere with your happiness.
2.) My usefulness is all behind me. My appearance has changed so drastically with wrinkles and extra fat or sagging muscles that all I want to do it hide in my room and wait to die.
3.) I am certain an alien has taken over my mind and body and I am only in control on rare occasions and those seem to be when there is work or pain involved.
Personally, I have never been one who went after, or even longed for, fitness. I know all about the little endorphins that are supposed to flood your brain and make you feel good but I happen to know that eating chocolate accomplishes the same thing and without all of the nasty sweating. I was fortunate enough to be in fair physical shape for most of my adult life without putting forth a lot of effort and mistakenly thought this would continue. C'est la vie – so I was wrong and I now wear things that stretch and disguise and have fewer mirrors in my home.
My usefulness does seem to have morphed into being the butt of jokes, keeping my grandchild when her parents have important things to do that require the absence of children and old people, and being used as an example of what not to do with your life. I guess that’s all right. If setting even a bad example serves to enrich the lives of others then that in and of itself is a sort of usefulness … is it not?
I do agree I’m not worth much if you need help re-arranging furniture, carrying heavy objects such as grocery sacks, lifting a mid fifty pound child so she can reach the monkey bars and pushing a child on a merry-go-round leaves me breathless and the child dissatisfied with only going one half of a mile per hour. I do, however make great voices for characters in children’s books, have developed a theory that desert first is not wrong, but indeed prudent, as life can end unexpectedly and you should enjoy what you can while you can.
You may be assuming that I have let my personal expectations slide but it is not so. I have always tried to be kind with myself, knowing I am a rare breed for which there is no official protective society. I am the person behind the curtain of the voting booth that has the line backed up because, try as I might, I simply can not get the pencil to stay within the tiny circles you are supposed to blacken. I am the student who so angers the teacher they keep the whole class in from recess because I can’t answer the questions on a true or false test … there are so many variables, how can one be expected to answer with absolute certainty that if Mary had five apples and gave three to John, that she would have two left? As far as I know Mary may have also given one to Bill or having seen how generous she had been, Betty had not given her three of her own? I also can not answer questions such as, affirmative statements. I like pie. Well, what kind of pie, who baked it, is it fresh, as apposed to cake or candy … I mean really! I need much more information!
I have to admit my reading habits have changed. I read the obituaries religiously. I read them all, whether I knew the person or not and I’ll admit, I do tend to see how my life so far stacks up to what their eulogy claims they contributed. I’ve read them at another period of my life but that was when I was house hunting and if you time it just right you can get a grand deal from a grieving, overwhelmed widow …. Oh PLEASE, like you haven’t done this very thing?
As far as the alien theory, it is the only logical answer I have found to explain how my reading glasses end up on the top shelf of the refrigerator while a carton of milk appears on my desk. While we’ve all experienced the “missing sock” phenomenon, I am quite certain that I would not try to answer the television remote or for that matter take my doctor a glass of lemonade and find a half full urine specimen bottle in the cup holder of my car. SO … aliens it is.
Yes, it is good to reflect on one’s life as you get older I believe, as long as you don’t take it all too seriously. Selective memory is a marvelous thing.