Oh, Crap. Another Birthday.
I am part of a generation that said, “Never Trust Anyone Over 30.” I am now twice that, plus a little more.
Aside from my short term memory deficit, growing old can be quite advantageous as well as entertaining. I get to board flights first, I get discounts at movies, stores, restaurants, half price Metro fares, and people don’t seem so miffed when I say, “I’m sorry, I forgot.”
One of the great things about being an old lady is that so many strangers are willing to help me. One afternoon, I was walking down a flight of stairs when a young woman coming toward me said, “Excuse me, but did you know your shoe is untied?” (I didn’t.) I thanked her and leaned over to tie it when she said, “Let me do that for you.”
The physical aspects of aging are obvious; I don’t walk as quickly or as far, and I could swear I used to be taller. On the upside, I am no longer terrified when I catch my reflection in a store window, since I finally concluded my mother isn’t haunting me. I often wear a feather clip which covers my thinning hair. It’s actually kind of cute and makes people think I’m quirky.
My skin no longer fits, but thanks to The Home Shopping Network, that’s no longer a problem. One evening, as I was flipping through a few TV channels, I heard an announcer ask, “Do your arms sag? Do they jiggle? Are you embarrassed to wear sleeveless dresses?”
“Yes!” I screamed. I leaned forward, anxious to hear what else this perceptive woman had to say.
She continued, "Go from looking flabby to fabulous in seconds with Amazing Arms."
"Arm girdles!" I screamed. I grabbed my phone, and punched in the 'Operators Are Standing By’ phone number.
Somewhere I read that spending time with people of a similar age contributes to a feeling of happiness, well being, and even longevity. I decided to test this theory by visiting a massive mega-church where I was certain to meet people of my generation. I went to the welcome desk and asked a young man if there was an adult education class I could visit. He seemed very excited to tell me about all the programs the church offered and recommended a class he was certain I would enjoy.
Ten minutes later I found myself in a classroom surrounded by a dozen women, all my age and a bit older. At the end of the class the leader took me aside and told me she hoped I would come back. She leaned toward me, grinned, and whispered, “We’re known as the wild and crazy group.”
That sounded promising. “Oh, really?” I said. “What do you do?”
She guardedly glanced around the room and whispered, “We go out to lunch.” She continued, "But we also have a service ministry for the elderly ladies in the nursing home."
"That sounds nice" I responded. "Do you play cards with them?"
"No," she answered, "We pluck their chin hairs."
After the church service, I followed the parishioners into the enormous fellowship hall for an informal coffee time. My visitors’ badge served its purpose. Several people introduced themselves and welcomed me, including a man my age named Grant. He said he wore a hearing aide and suggested we take our coffee outside to a table in the courtyard where he could hear better.
I learned he was widowed, had a grandson, and retired from NASA as an aerospace engineer.
As we chatted, I casually draped my Pashmina around my shoulders. He leaned across the table, intently looked into my eyes and remarked, “You’re Cold? Do you know what the temperature is right now on the moon?” (Well…no, but I could check The Weather Channel.)
I assumed it was unlikely I would hear from him again when he asked if I knew where he could meet women.
I have now reached the greatly advanced age of sixty-nine.
My mailbox is incessantly stuffed with catalogs sent by companies anxious to sell me items all beneficial to my aging body. Compression socks, oversized cell phones with gigantic buttons, and vitamin supplements top the list.
One by one they get tossed into the recycle bin. Although, I have considered an ‘I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up’ button. Might be worth looking into.