“Holy birthdays, Batman, I never saw it coming!”
Yesterday I was fit, forty and feeling fabulous. This morning I woke up sluggish, saggy and just this side of sixty-five. No way! Can’t be! But one look into the magic mirror and my fears were confirmed – a youthful spirit is cocooned inside an old person’s body. When did it happen? How could it have sneaked up on me like that? It doesn’t matter; the reality is another “magic birthday” is approaching with alarming velocity.
What are magic birthdays? They’re the milestones of maturity. At the age of twelve, you can’t wait until you’re sixteen and can drive dad’s car. At sixteen, you start counting the minutes to eighteen so you can move out, go to college, and become your own person. At eighteen, an eternity stands between you and magic twenty-one, the “legal age!” and then it happens. A month later, you’re forty and two weeks after that you’re collecting social security!
Funny thing (funny “strange,” not funny “ha ha”), old age was always fifteen years older than I happened to be at the moment. But somehow in the great race of time, I caught up with it! Or maybe more correctly, it sneaked up on me. And it moved in like the proverbial thief in the night. Oh, the signs were all there, but quite obviously I had been in an impervious state of denial. It started with my mind. Little things at first, like misplacing my keys or forgetting somebody’s name. But then it began to snowball. I found myself putting Preparation H on my toothbrush (would it have been worse the other way around?), using hairspray instead of deodorant ,calling my puppy by my son’s name, constantly losing things, putting the car keys into the refrigerator. At least once every day I find myself standing in a room asking myself, “Why did I come here?” Nowadays my mind not only wanders, sometimes it disappears completely!
And then, as if losing one’s mind isn’t bad enough, the body begins to morph into some kind of ancient alien being. Aches, pains, grey hair, thinning hair on your head and new hair growing from places that never had hair before! And, then those telltale, unmistakable signs of maturity: wrinkles.
Just the other day as I was bending over to pet our young bulldog, Emmett, I remembered a scene from an old episode of “The Golden Girls.” Dorothy says to Blanche “You know, when you’re twenty everything stays where it’s supposed to. Now, when you lean over, it looks as though somebody has let the air out of your face.” After Blanche looks down into the hand mirror and is utterly horrified, she says, “Oh my God, Dorothy, why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” To which Dorothy replies, “Only on your back, Blanche. That way everything slides back and it looks as if you’ve just had a facelift!”
Sometimes the truth hurts. Looking down into that adorable little Bully face the stark reality hit me between the eyes, and wrinkles. We have the same face! The big difference is his wrinkles are cute. Oh well, maybe he thinks mine are cute, too.
But wait, maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. Maybe my magic mirror just needs some Windex. When checking out a bottle of wine at the grocery store, I had to show my drivers license to the clerk to prove I was old enough. Well, yes, it is the store’s policy to require proof of age before purchasing anything with “proof” in the product’s description no matter how old you look or are. However, when the young man looked at the license, he paused, looked up at me with a twinkle in his eyes and said, “Wow! I would never have guessed that year!” Genuine amazement or not, he made my day. For a few minutes I was fit and forty again.
Well, I’ve been young and I’ve been old, and even though young is often better, we all know that growing old is much better than the alternative.
I love happy endings.
(Check out www.patlawrence.net/today-s-blog for more humor on aging)