In less than a week I will be turning 60 years old. It doesn’t seem to bother me. “It’s just a number. You’re as old as you feel. Sixty is the new 40!,” are the wise adages we have created to help us feel better about getting older. But I don’t feel the need to soften the blow. At 50, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t expect to hit sixty. So, you better believe I am damn well happy about being able to celebrate this birthday, sharing it with my family and having a nice piece of cake.
Sixty years can feel like a long time or as though they went by in the blink of an eye, depending who you talk to. For me, the years went by pretty fast, even though I am living a fairly boring life. There was very little excitement to speak of, just the normal, every day challenges to deal with. I can probably sum up my whole life as: I was born, graduated college, married, raised two daughters, and you can fill in the blah, blah, blahs yourself. I lived the life I envisioned, the life I wanted to live. I can’t complain. I have been very blessed. I do the things I want to do, the things that make me happy. I don’t care what most people think of me, just those I am closest to. I have learned from my own experiences and those of others. I have given and taken advice. I have known the heartache and grief of loss. I have known the joy of love and happiness. I have acquired wisdom. It’s been a good life and I don’t dread turning 60 for one minute.
However, I can’t speak for all my body parts. Some of them are having a bit of a hard time dealing with the changes of this past decade. My eyeglasses need to be “tweaked” a little more often than they used to. Making the font larger on the computer seems to help them feel they as though they are as sharp as ever. The past year, my left ankle gets swollen every day. It needs a little pampering and elevation. I don’t want my right ankle to feel bad because I am favoring the left, so I put both my feet up during the day to keep them happy. My muscles, if you can call them that, ache with every little thing I attempt to do. If I carry a little shopping home from the store, my arms ache. If I bend to do a little cleaning, then my back aches. If I walk around the park for exercise, then my legs ache. It seems like my muscles have taken early retirement and forgot to send me a memo. My stomach, which has been fine digesting whatever I liked in the past, has decided to become much more finicky. Everything seems to upset it. For example, though I have been a meat eater all my life, but beef and pork have become difficult for me to digest. My stomach prefers chicken and fish now. Salads are great, except my stomach doesn’t like any kind of vinaigrette dressing and immediately acts up. Too much of anything upsets it: too much junk food, too much candy, too much fiber, too much fruit . . . it doesn’t matter if the items are good or bad for me, my stomach will only tolerate so much of it. Ironically however, that hasn’t stopped me from gaining weight or having high cholesterol. Hearing and memory diminish greatly with age. This is really difficult to adjust to because most of us need to remember the things we hear, that is, if we hear them in the first place. When my husband tells me something and then has to repeat it, I don’t know if I forgot what he said or didn’t hear it in the first place. To save face, I tell him he never said it. Sometimes I say something and repeat it five minutes later because I forgot I said it. It’s not always something that bears repeating either. Thank God my husband has the patience of a saint. I still have all my teeth, but some of them have become very sensitive to cold things. No one has tampered with these teeth that I have had all my life. The fillings are all the original ones I got as a kid. So why are my teeth causing me problems now? Maybe they don’t want to be left out? It could be peer pressure from the other body parts or maybe they just want some attention? Who knows? As for the rest of the body parts, they still work pretty well for now. I’ll have to reassess my situation a year from now and see if I have any more setbacks.
Last week I went to the salon to get my hair cut and colored. My hair is vain and still wants to look 40. While I was there, an older woman started chatting with me and asking me all kinds of questions. I am an open book so I volunteered the answers and then some. She asked me about my family and I told her I was 29 when I got married and have been married 31 years with had two daughters. Then we got to talking about my parents and how they were first cousins and had an arranged marriage. She said, “but they loved each other right?” I immediately answered with a drawn out and emphatic, “No.” To which she burst out laughing at my honesty. Then she asks, “How old are you?” I answer, “Sixty.” She almost falls out of her chair with disbelief and tells me it can’t be. I tell her I just told you I was 29 when I married and I am married 31 years, the numbers don’t lie. Then she tells me never to tell anyone my age because I look 40 and don’t have a wrinkle on my face. I think to myself, looks can be deceiving, as my other body parts would attest to. As I leave, she wants to know when I am coming in for my next appointment so she can meet me there and chat some more.
The next thing on my agenda is looking into taking a college class on creative writing, maybe even this fall. I love to write, but my imagination needs to be resuscitated, if it isn’t totally dead. We’ll see what happens with that adventure. If it doesn’t work out, I always have blogging.