My father often repeated a quote attributed to Bette Davis: “Getting old is not for sissies.” I saw a recent photo of myself that seemed less than flattering and I asked out loud, “When I did get so old?” My adult daughter’s quick response was, “Only recently, Mum”. In childhood years I am quite old, but in senior years I am still very young. If I live to be as old as my grandmother I still have another 30 years ahead of me.
Recently my husband had a short hospital stay that was unexpectedly extended an extra night. My dilemma was that after battling heavy traffic for two hours to get to the city to retrieve him I was told that he would not being going home and would have to be picked up between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. the next morning. That was going to be a lot of driving and very little sleep for me and so I called my daughter who lived in the city. Apparently I sounded flustered because she immediately left work and came to get me, took me to her home, fed me, even did my laundry and provided me with a toothbrush and clean socks. I expect it to be many more years before I lose my autonomy but I think this could be seen as the initial crossover onto a long and slippery slope towards dependency. It simply was not that long ago I was stepping in to help my own mother.
Age definitely creeps up faster the older we get, or perhaps we are creeping more slowly, and Age is an easier pill to swallow if we retain a sense of humour because Age has all sorts of impish tricks. For instance, all those years on a monthly cycle only to find when it’s finally over that it’s been replaced with the daily ritual of shaving my chinny chin chin – how perverse is that? One day this too shall pass apparently. On a visit with my 78 year-old mother she passed me a package of disposable razors with the words, “Nothing grows on me any more.” And recently I put on a scooped-neck shirt, one that is purposely wrinkled in style, only to find that it matched the bit of bare chest showing above it.
My body is definitely creakier than it used to be, less flexible, a bit of arthritis in one ankle, but I am otherwise blessedly healthy and don’t require a bulk of pills and meds to keep me going. I finally decided to meet Age head on and have taken up yoga. I am steadily gaining more flexibility and surprised my children with my agility, although I forbid them from posting any photographs of yoga sessions on Facebook.
My mother had a very dear childhood friend, Margie. When Mum passed away I adopted Margie and her husband Dick as honorary parents. They were a delightful couple and Margie, all of five-foot-nothing had the most contagious giggle along with a delightful sense of humour. She was one of those rare individuals who could relate to people of all ages and, in fact, as well as being my mother’s closest friend, she became a dear friend to me and also befriended by daughter who loved her dearly. My sister and I have often said that when we get old – neither of us actually believes we are there yet – when we get old we have both declared we want to be a “Margie”. My brother-in-law jumped in and said he wanted to be a “Dick”. We told him he already was.