Tuesday, January 14, 2020

'Coming of Age...'

I'm 84 and so what. So why the sense of embarrassment. At this stage of life by many people's measure (and possible misfortune)  I should be researching nursing homes, if not actually residing in one. As defiant as I might feel, the actuarial tables are against me.  How can I explain why I own the number but most days want to disown it because I feel only half that age.? The world does not want me or expect me to be alive.
"You're 84? Impossible," said a young woman at a party recently, "You look 70." She thought she was giving me a compliment.
I could have protested, argued, insisted I really did not feel 70 although I suppose I looked all of 70 and more in her eyes.
What does 70 look like? In her eyes and in others?
What does 84 mean - really?
It's time, finally,  to grow up is how I feel most days.
How can people survive to what is described as 'a ripe old age'? Don't ask anyone who fills the bill. Was it not ever having had (please, lord, don't listen)  to spend time in a hospital for some organ failure or bone break? Was/is it all a lucky break in the gene pool? I tripped yesterday on an upturned brick and my ankle wiggled..oh so worryingly that I thought at once (before going upright again) of the pair of    in the gazebo. Would that be my fate? And end a planned vacation in Hawaii?
The luck of the draw. Someone (and plenty others have done it) has to challenge the charts.
Keeping enemy bugs (viruses, etc.) at bay is  beyond most people's control. We're always being reminded that the enemy is all around us, especially on door and toilet handles, the sneeze in the subway, the over-extended shelf life.
That's me - over-extended, not quite sure of my place.Possibly expendable in the modern world.  Because I cannot  really function as a 42 year old, given some inevitable decline - whether environmental or self-inflicted. I must remind myself of daily failings - names of people and places coming and going in an out of instant recall; the eyes resisting driving a car alone at night in unfamiliar terrain; the thinning skin that can't be easily repaired.
Ah, please, end such foolish meandering with a few boring snoring rules. Tell some tales out of school. Admit that I didn't plan much in my life, got caught up in too many good moments, had no role models to speak of. But I caught on to Pilates before it was too late to care - in my 70s - building on earlier efforts at strenuous exercise, divining that such habits are good. I only drink good coffee and refuse foul tasting spirits (but not expensive ones). Read at length without guilt. Try to do one favor for somebody  a day. Look left and right on street corners. Watch out for loose bricks.

 Found myself entangled with wire fencing that had blown across the brick walk right outside my front gate. recently. What could have ensued would have been  disaster but I somehow managed to steady myself, not to fall,  breathe deep and thank the gods watching over.
Age is just a number - famously said by Joe Biden on his endless trail to claim another title.  So what DOES make 84 seem more ominous than any other?  Shades of George Orwell ("1984")? The harsh sound of 'four' ? A belated need to update one's personal slightly imperfect and probably distorted image of oneself? The older you are the more personalities you have no doubt acquired or played with. 

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