A re-visit this week. I ended up with more things to do than I had week to do them in. Sound familiar? Apologies for the wonky setup--Blogger isn't too friendly these days. Thanks for reading!
I keep saying, “The hardest thing about being old is…” There’s nothing wrong with saying that, except that I finish it differently almost every time. Here’s my list for this week.
· Your body betrays you. If you get down, you can’t get up. When you leave a doctor’s appointment, you may as well make another one, because by the end of the week, you’ll need to go back. Gravity, that wicked witch, has attacked you and taken away certain…assets you thought you had. Well, she didn’t take them away, but she certainly did put them in a different place.
· Losing your memory. Because you don’t have it anymore and oh, boy, do you miss it. You can, of course, remember what you wore to school on the first day of seventh grade (blue skirt, white blouse, red T-strap shoes), the boy you had a crush on when you were eight (Randy), and a mean thing you said to someone in Mrs. Kotterman’s class that still makes you squirm (sorry, Suzanne). However, you can’t remember what you went into the next room for, why you had to go to Kroger’s, and the name of your firstborn if he’s the one you’re talking to. You can’t remember that you told that same story just yesterday to the—cringe—same person you’re telling it to today.
· Losing people you love. Nothing makes this any easier. It happens more and more as you age. I remember being surprised because my aunt’s funeral wasn’t crowded because, after all, Aunt Gladys had always gone to everyone’s funeral. Oh, yes, exactly. Everyone’s. All of her immediate family and most of her friends had passed before her. Only her nieces, nephews, and younger friends were left to mourn and to share the wonderful stories she told. There’s nothing you can do about the losses; they are just a bitter fact of life.
· Things that make you say “when I was your age…” In the first place, it’s probably not accurate. I grew up in the 1960s. No one thought any of us would amount to a hill of beans. Everyone over the age of 30 hated our music, our clothes, our politics, our protesting ways, our language, our ethics, our mores and morals, our work ethic, our hair, our movies, our books, the way we sat on the border wall around the courthouse, our sunglasses, our regular glasses, our language, our attitudes, our…oh, good heavens, I’m out of breath. Does any of this sound familiar to you? What that means, I think, is that every older generation thinks every younger generation is a waste of human flesh. And we’re all wrong.
· They don’t make cars like they used to. I must admit, I still think there are no new cars as pretty as a 1957 Chevy, a 1965 Mustang, or a 1968 Camaro. That being said, I expect to get at least 200,000 miles out of a car now, and that wasn’t the case in “when I was your age.”
· And that’s just the list for this week. Goodness knows what will be the hardest thing about aging the next time I talk about it.
And now, oh, yes, now comes the good part. The part where I say, “The coolest thing about getting old is…”
· Your body still has parts that work. If you look around, you know way too many people whose do not. Often, though, they will still have eyes that sparkle, a laugh that draws you right into a warm place, or conversation that gives you knowledge you didn’t have and ideas that need to be considered.
· Finding your memories. This does include the old ones, but there are new ones, too. Like when Duane, my husband, had a total knee replacement. Our grandson Eamon, who was six at the time, told his mother that Papaw was going to get a new leg. Eamon observed that he thought Papaw should get a new head instead. (Nana may or may not have agreed with this—I don’t remember.) The next time they came to the house, Duane was still in his recliner with his knee stretched out and when they came up the driveway, I ran and got a 22-inch zipper and wrapped it around Duane’s neck. He tilted his head to one side and we waited for Eamon to come in. The truth is, we probably marked the kid for life—he was horrified—but it also gave the family a memory we will laugh about forever.
· The people you love. No, nothing makes losing them a cool thing, but loving them in the first place can never be taken away. Even when memories do swirl around in your mind, the love stays there.
We’ve all heard the story of the man who visited his wife in an Alzheimer’s unit every single day. “Why do you do that?” someone asked him. “She doesn’t even know who you are anymore.”
“You don’t understand,” said the man, “I still know her.”
· Things that make you think (not say) “When I was your age…” You may not know this, but the music in the 1960s was the best music there’s ever been. I saw on Facebook the other day when some millennials were chortling about senior chords and talking about how silly they were (as opposed to parachute pants, I assume) and I just remembered how much fun they were. Fifty years after the fact, I still regret that I didn’t have any.
· Cars. I like remembering when those coolest-cars-of-all were new and even my own Camaro—an '86 not a '68. But mostly I like my SUV that’s easy to get in and out of, the GPS that finds me every time I get lost, and the fact that my seven-year-old car with its 135,000 miles is still on its second set of tires and its second set of brakes.
So, yeah, right the second time. There really are parts of aging—of being aged—that are crummy. And lots more parts that are just the coolest thing.
Have a good week. Stay safe. Make memories. Be nice to somebody.