Aging - Ready or Not, Here It Comes!!
by Elizabeth Foust
Did you ever wonder when, exactly middle age ends and old age starts? Most of us will agree that whatever it is, it isn't here yet!
Many of us older Americans are lucky enough to be living on Cape Cod and still having our health (or most of it) will put up a fuss about growing older gracefully. Some of us are extremely vain and want no part of it!
Although there are many nursing and retirement homes here in this mecca for older Americans who have various disabilities and conditions, there are plenty of us, out and about with only partial aches and pains. We make the best of things by dealing with them with a positive attitude and a sense of humor. I am not by any means trying to diminish anyone's pain or suffering. I merely have more fun dealing with growing older by looking at the slightly silly side of sixty! So bear with me and maybe you'll have a chuckle or two.
I tell my children and grandchildren that I am a 19-year-old trapped in a sixty something body! Remember when you were a teenager and someone 30 years old was considered ancient; then when you turned 25 years old, 30 didn't seem that old?
On the eve of my 30th birthday, depressing as that was, it only meant that middle age was closer, but safely away at 40 something. At 40, I kept repeating the old adage that "You are as young as you feel". I feel great, fantastic in fact! Weren't my contemporaries Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore? They didn't look middle aged either. There was nothing to worry about, at least not for a few more years. (I would gladly kill to be only 40 again!).
Isn't it amazing how those years 41-49 pass so swiftly, stealthily and sneakily? One day you are as frisky as a colt and the next thing you know you feel like an old nag some days.
Something was wrong with my mirrors or was it just failing eyesight? Why were those smile lines, frown lines and crows feet converging in a facial Bermuda Triangle? Just a fluke I told myself, probably due to lack of sleep. Funny though, I seemed to need 8 hours or more lately. What had happened to gliding by on my usual 5 or 6 hours and looking none the worse?
My 50th birthday dreadfully arrived. It heralded the realization that there was no putting it off. MIDDLE AGE was here. It was the time to accept the inevitable……I was never going to make the Playboy centerfold, not without extensive, expensive surgery. Since my bank account said definitely no…so did my common sense, the next best thing seemed to just learn to make the most of it. It couldn't be that bad, could it? I felt fine, I still had my health…so far. What was the big deal? All right, my dress size was increasing yearly, but I was able to disguise it pretty much. It's not a crime to have elastic waists; they were a way of life by now. I'm not too proud to breathe easier and my waistbands don't have that lumpy rolled over look. And what about Velcro? Velcro is good!! Many of my sensible shoes close that way. They're easier to put on and require less bending over time; something mature tummies can't take too much of these days. True Velcro can be a little noisy in a public place, but since my hearing and that of my friends' isn't all that great anymore, who cares? As for my dressy shoes, they just have a smidgen of a heel and a wide, clunky one at that. The risk of a fall and a broken hip is just not worth the effort of high heels.
Subtly, so subtly, my priorities changed as I delved into my fifties and beyond. Staying slim, svelte and sexy didn't seem as important. I didn't automatically suck in my stomach on a moment's notice whenever an attractive male approached. It wasn't worth the effort; besides which, it didn't stay in the way it use to. Also, have you noticed that despite the Cape's aging population, there are plenty of younger, very attractive women? Now, does any woman with a grain of sense really think a male of any age will ever notice whether or not her stomach is held in when there is a pretty young woman around. And do we really care?
My sense of humor, always a little sick anyway began to be directed more at myself. Did it really matter if I dressed more like my mother and less like her daughter? Would anybody really care if my shoes were designed for comfort and were washable, leaning more towards Reebok than Capizzio?
Would I be judged more harshly and thought less of for wearing support hose? Realistically, there's a bit more to support nowadays. Yes, they can be a hassle to get in first thing in the morning with all that huffing and puffing. Reminds you of a snake shedding it's skin in reverse, doesn't it? Never mind. Once they're on it's worth the struggle. I love the way my varicose veins pop back into place. There's even a spring in my step for a few minutes.
Those popular longer jackets, blouses and? are a boom to us eager size gals. They cover a multitude of imperfections? You know what I mean, those hips that "Ain't what they used to be." As for bathing suits, something that covers everything is my style. I was never a big beach fan, but no Grannie worth her salt can get away with not taking her grandkids to the beach. That's a big part of why they come to visit in the first place! I've noticed how much fun a day at the beach is these days. It's a delight to watch the littlest grandchild observe the magic of surf, sand and shells. Everything is an adventure for them. What a fool I'd been not to go more often through the years.
I wish designers would bring back those "Gay Nineties" bathing suits. I am definitely at the age where I look better with my clothes on. As far as the "thong" goes, the less said about that the better. I never cared for skimpy suits in my youth; to wear one now would be hilarious and require an industrial size liposuction. They could probably float a dirigible with my bi-products!
Occasionally, all right… on the rare occasion when my husband and I go dancing we are never mistaken for Arthur and Katherine Murray….remember them? Of course our children have never heard of them, but we don't care!! We still have our sense of rhythm and great fun tapping time, tummies touching tenderly.
My own grandmother had very bad arthritis. She went about her business with much discomfort. Whenever we would ask her how she felt, she always told us in great detail her aches and pains (more than we wanted to know). It was impossible to have an ordinary conversation without listening to endless complaints. As a result, although we loved her, we didn't spend as much time with her as we should have. I still feel guilty about this and have been determined not to dwell on my own arthritis in a similar way. It's counter-productive and wastes precious time with my grandchildren and their parents.
There's more to this middle age business than I thought. Can old age be so bad? Would it kill me to be called ELDERLY someday? Someday is yet to be determined. I'm almost (but not quite) looking forward to it. I've promised myself that I will dance at all my grandchildren's weddings. Since the youngest is only 8 months old, I should be ready in say 20 or 30 years……..