Archive for November, 2009

November 7, 2009

older n’ dirt

by badmammy

I still find it hard to believe. I mean, I’m livin it but can’t quite get a grasp on the situation. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I ain’t no butter knife, either. But I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around it, as they say these days. It’s everywhere I turn. I’ve seen it on the talk shows. I read it in the magazines. The billboards scream out all the things (procedures) you can do to not to show it. I can see it in the faces of everyone I love. Time. Time passing. Aging.

There, I’ve said it. Aging. Yeah, we’re all aging. All the time. Time is marching on. I accept this on a conceptual or abstract level. One day slides into the next & we don’t notice. There is no “ta-da” moment. There is nothing to point at & say this is it; yes, that was when it happened. A specific date & time. I understand philosophically that I am not at this instant the same person I was when I woke up & fed the dog this morning. That I will be older still before anybody reads this. That we will all be older this evening, tomorrow & the day after that.

On one of his birthdays someone asked my dad how he felt about being another year older. He said “it sure beats the alternative”. I suppose that’s true. Of course, if we have any religious beliefs or faith we know that death is nothing to fear. At least for me.

It has always been my intention to be an old woman. When I was a kid I somehow got it into my head that I would live to be 94. I was (& am) okay with that. I would be kindly, loved by many, living in my old house full of cats & cookies. Children would visit. I envisioned a gray braid, wrinkles & slightly stooped posture. I saw it all, right down to the old lady lace up shoes.

What I never, never ever did consider was the meantime, the space between youth & old age. I had no vision of the intervening years. No clue how to deal with the passing of time. How I would get to this gray braid never occurred to me. The process, I suppose you could call it. The big decline. A great big slide into real adulthood. A trip down the rabbit hole of life. Now I realize that it sneaks up on you.

And, that is exactly what has happened. I was grooving along, living & loving my life. Then one summer I found out that I couldn’t move rocks or dig in the garden the way I had the year before . I quit my yard & traded in grass for  rocks. Grocery bags were harder to carry & I detest shopping anyway. Dancing all night would make me achy the next day. I did dance on, though. Two Advils later, oh, haha, I must be getting old. Yeah, yeah, happens to the best of us. I laughed it off.

Then I began to notice real changes. I would look in the mirror & not recognize myself. Who was that old woman & where did I go? I cried. What happened to my hair? Where did that other hair come from? At a stop light I would glance at the steering wheel & see my mother’s hands. When did that happen? I heard myself saying things I never dreamed I’d say. It was as if my parents or somebody older had invaded my head & spoke for me.

What I underestimated or forgot to consider at all was the feelings of being old, of becoming that way. How to cope with the long, slow fading of ability & agility, the gradual graying, the happy laugh lines becoming canyons. The total feeling of disconnect from the world. Looking around our youth obsessed country we are suddenly shocked to realize that we are no longer the demographic the ads are selling to. After years of being the largest & most influential generation, now ads that are geared to someone my age contain words like erectile disfunction, better digestion, incontinence, tighter sticking dentures & everybody’s favorite for greater mobility, the hoveround.

Nobody wants to grow old. Accepting the inevitable, we plow ahead. Denial becomes our friend. We just pretend that we are still vital & attractive. We can have our wrinkles filled in, our foreheads paralyzed, fat sucked out of our guts & buy bigger boobs, butts, calves & arms. Our eyesight is corrected with lasers. We can have chin hairs permanently removed & makeup tattooed on. We drive to the gym to work out & retain our girlish figures. There are pills for our sagging libidos. We color our hair & have highlights & lowlights put in. We can even order more hair from Asia & have it woven onto our heads. We have our teeth capped or bleached for that bright white great big smile. As Dolly Parton has said “if it can be sucked, plucked or tucked, I’ve done it”. There seems to be no end of “cures”.

But, is there a cure? Should we seek the fountain of youth? Is growing old something we can deny? For how long? Why do we continue to deny it? Aging is part of the natural order. I heard on the news the other day that our children will likely live to be over 100. I’m not sure I want to be 100. Certainly not if I can’t get around. Although it might be cool to have a CG 3-D Willard Scott announce the big birthday on the Never Ending Today Network.

Actually. I like being older. I have survived so many broken hearts, hurt feelings, missed deadlines & dead batteries that things like that are not that big of a deal any more. I lived through both of my parents deaths. Despite that pain, I know that whatever happens, I will survive. It doesn’t lessen the hurts of daily life but I will survive. I pray for grace to withstand the onslaught. I pray for strength to keep going & guidance along the way. I credit my sense of humor with getting me this far. I pray to keep it.

I used to say “of all the things I’ve loved & lost, I miss my waist the most.” I have no illusions of being the same as I was at 20, but give a girl a break. I do my best with the weight thing. I try not to overeat or tear into the candy but it sure is hard. Goes on easy; comes off hard. I used to be able to shake off the extra pounds. Not anymore. No. Not anymore.

There is one thing that bugs me worse than the loss of my waist and that is my loss of cool. That was the one thing I did notice had (seemingly) dissappeared overnight. It hit me like the proverbial lightening bolt. I was so used to being cool that I took it for granted. It was something that I took great pride in. No matter what age I was, I was cool. Then, in a store, I would catch the sidelong glance of some punk looking at me like I was old & impeding his day. The shop clerks would call me “hon”. In the screaming florscent lighting of a department store I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I wanted to screech out loud “wait a dang minute, I am cool here. I am so cool. I was cool before you even thought about it. Don’t be lookin at me like that. I am cool. You hear me? COOL!!” I didn’t tho. I picked up my packages, told them to have a good one & strolled away. I had to laugh at myself. Yeah, I’m cool like that.

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