Age is Only a Number. Ha!
My number is almost up
That’s me with my 79th birthday cake at a gathering of my Jewish women’s group for Christmas. I know, it doesn’t look like a birthday cake but I was damned if I’d settle for some phony supermarket cake just because they could write Happy Birthday on it. No, I’m not praying over the cake. My hostess insisted I couldn’t blow out the candle (Covid mishegas), so I’m preparing to clap it out.
When we’re kids we can’t wait to get the to next age milestone. Age ten is thrilling because we’ve reached the double digits, thirteen is the start of adolescence and the excitement of entering adulthood with surging hormones. Twenty is perfection physically but the turmoil of figuring out what to do with your life is a bitch. Thirty is the best decade. We’re still young and beautiful but hopefully a little more settled and secure. The next few decades are about searching for signs of increasing decrepitude. At forty, fifty and sixty, women just want to look ten years younger.
During all those decades we age pretty uniformly. Barring the extremes—athletes and the disabled—we can all walk a few miles, lift twenty or thirty pounds, and put in an all-nighter when necessary. Even though I was far from in great shape when young (I was always overweight, smoked till I was forty and didn’t exercise much) I had boundless energy, loved to travel and never turned down an invitation to a party.
Those days are long gone. I’m going to be eighty next Christmas. And I feel every year of it.
I admit it, I have not aged “well.”
It seems that the older I get, the younger everyone else my age gets. Most of my friends are in way better shape than I am. Yes, I have most of my marbles although I drop a few now and then. But I look every day of my 79 years, and then some. I have ailments up the wazoo—all of them potentially life threatening. My Boomer buddies still visit museums, go on nature walks, travel the world and swim in the ocean. I can do none of those things due to arthritis, stenosis, bad knees, bad feet, bad heart, bad lungs. Not to speak of a bad attitude.
A friend who came over for dinner a few nights ago told me her 98 year old mother walked better than I did. I wanted to slap her upside the head, but accepted that the statement as a fact of life.
When I was young I envied beautiful, slim girls. Now I envy any size people my age or older who can walk a block or two without collapsing. There’s no shortage of them. People are living to ever older ages and 80 seems to be the new 60 these days.
I have friends in this category. My college buddy Jill visited me recently. She’s my age, lives in Belize, has no health problems, and rides her bicycle everywhere for transportation. But then she’s a former dancer and hiker, never smoked and was always slim. I often wonder if I had lived as healthy a life as her I too would be as hale and hearty as she is today. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…. words that should be engraved on my tombstone.
I somehow always assumed I would “age well,” like my mom who also smoked. She was traveling the world and walking for miles well into her 80s. Until she got Alzheimers. I don’t even want to think about inheriting that hideous fate.
I’m in walker territory now and I’m fighting it every agonizing step of the way. Don’t tell me age is just a number.