WHY BLOG ABOUT GETTING OLD?

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I was born in 1931.  That makes me 84.

It sounds awful, even to me.  When I read about an “84 year-old woman” in a newspaper, I picture a frail person with white hair, bent over with osteoporosis, who may even need a walker to get around the house and has definitely given up on hair color, makeup and jeans.

I have not given up on those things.  Judging by the roots, my hair is very likely now salt and pepper.  But nobody gets to see the roots, except me and Aziz, my genius hairdresser.  Although for most of my adult life, I was a couch potato, beginning in February 1999, when I was 67 and way overweight, I began going to the gym every morning before work (yes, it was hard) and eventually became not overweight at all.  I’m not quite so faithful to the gym any more, but I did recently begin doing Pilates twice a week.  (Not very well, I admit.  But you have to start somewhere.)

It’s true that in the last twenty years I’ve slowly shrunk two inches from the 5’7″ I once was; however, the shrinkage seems to have been proportional.  When I’m wearing sunglasses, occasionally somebody on the street still addresses me as “Miss.”  (Do I love it when that happens?  What do you think?)

On the other hand, I am not a shallow person.  I know looks aren’t everything.  In many ways, although not all, they lie.  There is no question that chronologically I am in the ninth decade of my life and that parts of me are not as they were.

Both of my eyes contain artificial lenses, because nine years ago cataracts would have prevented the renewal of my driver’s license if I hadn’t had surgical replacements. I also have a bionic right hip.

I’ve been hypertensive, and taking medication for it, since my early forties. And I’ve been living with hepatitis C since 1969, when I received a transfusion of two units of blood at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (in New York) which were contaminated with the virus, at that time not yet identified and therefore undetected.  Hep C invites a higher risk of liver cancer than might otherwise be the case — not to mention cirrhosis of the liver, but we won’t go there.

Cardiologists tend to be reassuring about my left bundle branch block and other cardiac deficits I won’t go into, but the fact that at least one of them has murmured soothingly about a worst-case scenario valve replacement is not exactly calming.  Heart problems were the cause of my father’s death.  He was just 84. (My mother died of colon cancer at 89; I take after him but nevertheless must undergo the joys of regular colonoscopies.)

So when I am not being ostrich-like, I feel as though I’m living in a bubble that may burst at any moment, for any one of a number of as yet unforeseen reasons.  And if I consider the long life I’ve lived so far (which some acquaintances are kind enough to view as colorful), I know I’ve wasted huge amounts of it.

I have been a daydreamer and an escapist — almost always dissatisfied and wishing for something better than I had.  A perfectionist afraid to get started lest I be less than perfect.  Someone who managed to make her way through life only by snatching herself, and then herself and her children, back from the edge of black holes at which she had arrived through lethargy.

In fact, looking back at my so-called accomplishments, I can’t find much residual pride or pleasure to savor — other than the time I spent at home with my children when they were small.  That was wonderful.  Except I was always worrying about money then.

[Of course, there were also the excitements connected with meeting a new man who might turn out to be the eternally elusive Him; unlike the children, however, the new man almost always eventually disappointed and left few happy memories behind.]

The man who became my first husband — in the end evidently not the elusive Him either, but dead now, so I can write about him — had an ashtray in his studio apartment that impressed me because it set forth its wisdom in another language.  It read, “Si la jeunesse savait, si l’age pouvait.”  Meaning, “If youth knew, if age could.” (It sounds better in French because it rhymes.)  I was twenty-one, and in spite of liking the ashtray very much for its world-weary European aspect had no idea at all what youth should have known because I thought I knew everything.

At eighty-four, though, and lacking much of what I didn’t know I had at twenty-one, I do know what the ashtray meant.  It’s to seize life and love it now, all the life within reach, as it is, as well as one can, for as long as one can.  Because sooner or later it’s going to end.  And you don’t get a second go at it.

So I am going to try to do just that before the bubble bursts and I have to confront the unknown bad things ahead — blogging about it as I go.  With all my counter-productive habits (yes, I still daydream, and often feel, despite what I know, that I have all the time in the world), I am going to have to work at it.

But that’s a good thing.  I’m old enough to remember when the Freudian mantra, love and work, was the solution to every problem.  Including getting old.

Maybe it still is.  We’ll see.

21 thoughts on “WHY BLOG ABOUT GETTING OLD?

  1. RainyWriter

    First – thank you for visiting my About page and leaving that wonderful note.

    Next – when I first stopped by your blog (which I had not realized was not a wordpress site … I am still very new at this), I read both your most recent blog and your About page. You write with a style that makes me almost think you are talking … but clearly the writing is much more organized than any real person would speak. (At least me .. I ramble all over the place when I talk.)

    But what caught my attention was your About page … it was a great piece of you.

    I meant to post a comment at the time, but I was semi on my way out the door if I recall correctly … and I didn’t want to seem hasty in my comment.

    At any rate, once again, thank you for the blog encouragement.

    Like

    • RainyWriter

      And … I really should proof read before I hit the “Post Comment” button. I meant the “Why Blog About Getting Old?” page is what I found pleasurable to read. 🙂

      Like

    • Well, thank you very much, RainyWriter. Actually, this IS a WordPress site; if you pay WP some money, as I did, they will remove “wordpress” from the blog’s URL. However, the blog remains on the WordPress platform.

      About the style, you are quite perceptive. It’s supposed to sound like speech, but obviously isn’t. It takes more than organization, however, to reach that result. If you check out my post today, the one about magnets, you’ll find out some of what’s involved. Now get back to blogging! The best way to learn is by doing! 🙂

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    • I tend to think of letting days go by as loss, not waste. You must be an extremely well organized person, if you are so mindful of “waste.” I am less so, although I do manage to stay on top of what is necessary. I also believe one must cut oneself, and others, some slack, and allow for regret, rather than self-condemnation. But thank you for reading, and for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am really happy to have found your blog. There is no age for loving life. I admire your taking up pilates. I do it and find it hard.
    We all eventually will get old (hopefully) and so it is wonderful to have someone ahead mentor us:)

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    • Thank you so much, Cynthia. I can’t tell what you’ve read — other than the three you clicked “like” for — but you might enjoy the one which ran on December 6, 2013 and was titled “Enjoying Older Age Revisited.” It’s a post about a short speech I gave when I wasn’t very much older than you are and is probably a template for how I think one should proceed in “older age.” Sorry I can’t give you a direct link, but there’s no option for that in WP’s “Comment” section. If you type the title into the search function on my home page, it should come right up.

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  3. So good to find your blog! I don’t fear ageing but do worry about becoming invisible even at 54! I just wrote a few thoughts on my blog on this very topic. All the best and I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I doubt very much a woman as lively and attractive as you can be invisible at 54, or even much later! (It’s true that there are certain men who only notice young hotties on the street, but is that the kind if visibility you really want?) I did look for your blog thoughts on aging but didn’t see them. What’s the post headline? All the best to you, too!

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  4. Yup. It’s all far more fragile than most of us want to remember. To live with that awareness, I suspect, brings a gift. I heard a fragment from Homer on the radio once: “Death plucks my ear and says, ‘Live: I am coming.’ ” I scribbled it on a scrap of paper (not while I was driving, I should add, or Death would have showed up a lot sooner) and left it on the dashboard. A friend read it a few weeks later and said, “If I had that in my car I’d never get to work.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve enjoyed reading this post, and just become a ‘follower’. Am new to blogging myself, but really enjoying it so far. I’ve discovered it’s quite addictive (although that’s also because I have more free time these weeks, due to sudden illness and slow recovery). For a woman of 84, you write, look and express yourself with amazing energy, vitality and a strong sense of purpose. I look forward to browsing your posts regularly – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nirodaigh — for everything you say except that “for a woman of 84” business. (Actually, I was 82 when I began the blog.) If one is lucky, as I have been so far — knock wood — the mind is the last thing to go. I don’t do stairs like a gazelle anymore, but I’m sure going to hang on to every last bit of life that I can and heartily recommend that you, and every other woman (and man), try to do the same. A good way to begin is by knocking stereotypes about what is appropriate to the “old” out of one’s head!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so right, and actually I slightly hesitated on those words, so not surprised at your feisty response! 🙂 Don’t even know why I said it, I think along the same lines about age. Numbers have no meaning, so why mention it? I think I wanted to compliment you, so it was a clumsy way of trying to do that. The name is ‘Gerie’, by the way – Nirodaigh is my Christian surname in Gaelic. I tend to use it a lot online.

        Liked by 2 people

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