I’ve just lately realized that, in spite of such extensive mental preparation as mentioning it–jokingly, to be sure–at every opportunity for quite some time now, I’m actually becoming old.
Me. Old. As in, well, old.
Until fairly recently, whenever I thought of being old, I secretly pictured my grandma in her 90’s, all skin and bones and wrinkles, deaf as stump, sweet and delicate and silent–much, in fact, like the fragile porcelain figurines that perched on the little side table next to her bed. A tiny apple doll. Nothing like me at all!
Good grief, old is some far-away time long into an unimaginable future that hovers just beyond the peripheral vision like a bank of fog squatting over a distant meadow. Old can’t possibly be now!
Truth to tell, I never really attached that particular adjective to me in any personal way; I was only trying it on for size, and because it made me laugh. The very idea of me actually being old was simply unthinkable!
As the years have ticked by, I’ve noticed that my personal definition of “old” has also moved ahead accordingly. When I was twenty, old was sixty. At forty, old was maybe eighty-five. I suppose if I had thought about it logically, I would have realized that if this trend were to continue, by the time I reached ninety years of age, “old” for me would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 160 years or so.
When these “growing pains” have hit at the different stages of my life, I’ve normally tried to work through them in accordance with the dictates of the self-help literature. However, it pains me to report that I’m usually about ten years down the road before this kind of awareness even reaches my consciousness. For instance, when I was 39, I had a brief melt-down when I finally realized that I wasn’t in my twenties anymore.
Clearly, either there’s a kind of basic disconnect between my brain and the world at large, or I’m simply the queen of self-delusion.
Now that I’m my 69th year, I’m finally beginning to recognize that it’s entirely possible I won’t be around forever. Duh.
And just to keep things up to date, here’s a news flash: the infusions (don’t let the name fool you; they’re nothing but chemotherapy in disguise), that were prescribed to prevent my bones from returning to their former flimsy and obstinately breakable osteoporotic state immediately began to loosen the roots of the hairs on my head, thereby thinning them out rather radically.
And the new pills I’m taking for yet another problem are in the process of finishing the job the infusion began. Oh, the joy. The sparse remaining hairs up there reveal a pate that is the rosy pink of a baby’s bottom, Not only that, but it shines; no, it gleams in the sun and is more than likely visible from outer space.
Now isn’t that just special?
If I looked like Natalie Portman, I could simply shave my head and be done with it. That woman could wear a bowl on her head and still be totally gorgeous. I, on the other hand, would simply remain fat, wrinkled – and completely bald. And old. Let’s not forget old.
Yes, I can see it coming clearly; any day now, I’ll have to start parting my hair way down the side of my head and combing it over the crown like those gentlemen who don’t want to admit they’re bald as an egg on top.
But what on earth do they do on windy days, glue it in place?
And why, I ask you, does the top of my head have to be that vibrant, reflective pink, when from the forehead down, the front of my head and neck are uniformly the colour of old parchment? Much as it pains me to say it, my morning face looks as though someone took an eraser to it in the middle of the night, leaving only the bags and wrinkles!
Furthermore, just yesterday I found out that the dental work I was told I must have is going to cost thousands of my hard-earned dollars. I said a bad word at the front desk when the receptionist handed me the estimate, thereby causing a shock wave along the reception desk where four receptionists and their respective clients were transacting business, and which rippled through the neighbouring six dental work stations.
Who would have thought that by the time you’re old, just having your own teeth in your head can be expensive? By the time I finally do shuffle off this mortal coil, my mouth should be worth a small fortune.
[And don’t even think that I haven’t put in my will that my children are to have my gold crowns.]
I tell you, these signs do not augur at all well for my plan to live until I’m a hundred.
In the meantime, it’s a beautiful sunny day out there today. I’ll just pop a couple of Advils, eat my prunes, put on my woolies and elastic stockings, an extra sweater, coat, wool scarf and hat, and the sturdy boots with the orthotics in them, then grab my walker and haul my weary bones outdoors for a stroll around the block—while I still can.