My mother knew how to grow old gracefully. She never tried to look ‘young’, but she was always youthful. She laughed a lot, played silly games with her grandchildren, and seemed to have great stores of energy.
Of course, she was also of a generation who didn’t share all of the anxiety they might be feeling or complain about aches and pains, so being fairly myopic as all children are regardless of age, I always just assumed that everything was hunky-dory.
Well, now that I am moving past middle age I have the distinct feeling that Mother just hid a lot of things well. I do not. I have questions and I have complaints and I don't feel particularly graceful.
I want to know why a hair can sprout on my chin and grow to an impressive length overnight when it takes four months for a bad haircut to grow out.
I want to know exactly why no one ever told me that pulling on a pair of sweatpants would one day become an Olympic sport of sorts, a task best achieved while sitting down because balance is one of the first things to go, even if you don’t keep catching a toe on the waistband and trip.
I want to know why sleep has become such a hit or miss project. There was a time that a sleepless night was an occasional occurrence. Now it’s the reverse. I have mastered many of the sleep-inducing little games. I can list all fifty states in my head, count backward from 100 and get to 0, name a country, a famous person born before 1900, or a car for each letter of the alphabet and still find myself making soup and coffee cake at three in the morning.
Of course, the whole memory thing is something else again. I used the word ‘myopic’ a few sentences ago. It took me ten minutes searching my ever shrinking brain trying to come up with it and finally had to ask my husband who got it right away. Quelle surprise! How about that - French I can remember.
And that joke about glasses being on someone’s head while they look for them? Not so very funny anymore. If you see an older person patting themselves down don’t assume that he or she has lost his or her mind. He or she is probably just looking for a pair of specs.
Getting old isn't all bad. It's just so surprising!