Seniors First

How I cringed at those words!  I know the cashier was trying to be nice and take care of me first but I could not help myself.  Now I know how an overweight woman feels when asked “when’s the baby due”.   Polite but terse I said to the cashier “next time please say ladies first.”   

I am 56 years old.   There.   I said it.   Okay, okay, I am 56 ½.

If you ask my age, I will answer without hesitation.  If you ask me, I will tell you I am fine with my age.   I will tell you I am proud of my age.  And I will point to my head of grey hair to prove it!  I wouldn’t want to be in my twenties or thirties again.   Forties?   Well, maybe.   But my reaction to the cashier’s words, where did that come from?   I started to wonder how do I honestly feel about age? 

·         Every time I see the envelope in the mail from AARP, I throw it away.   I do NOT care about the savings.   In fact I think they have a lot of nerve sending me this stuff.   I am not a retired person and I am not ready to retire.  I have been receiving those damn AARP envelopes for years!   I know people younger than me who are members “for the savings”.   All I know is if I become a member, I will feel old.

·         Forget the senior discount.  I’ll take it when I am eligible but not one minute, not one nano-second before.

·         My children have my permission to take immediate action if I ever do either of these two things:  come home with helmet-head hair or if I start putting  sugar packets and napkin-wrapped dinner rolls in my bag. 

·         Facelift?  No.   Oil of Olay?  Yes.

·         Whenever I tell someone my age, I always wait for the complimentary response “really?  You look much younger!”  It almost always comes.   We are, after all, a society of white liars.  But on those rare occasions it doesn’t, I want to grab them and shake them — tell me I look young!

·         When I see photos of long ago friends and relatives on Facebook, I wonder how they got to be so old.   Then I wonder if they would think the same about me.

I crashed my bicycle right around the time I turned 50.  On the table in the emergency room, bleeding, broken, swelling, bruises rising and fighting back tears, I felt stupidly old.   What was I thinking, riding a bike on the streets of Chicago at my age?  Childhood accidents never hurt so much.  I needed to learn to act my age.  Two days later I limped into the health club, determined to shake it off, get myself back in shape and up on that bike.   And I did. 

This is not a mid-life crisis.   This is a full blown I hate the fact that I am getting older crisis.  This is complete denial.   I hate the fact that I am edging up on 60.  I do pull-ups and dips and push-ups because I refuse to accept chicken-wing arms.  Every time a knee creaks or a shoulder cracks I pop glucosamine.  I slather on the sunblock to keep the wrinkles at bay.  I brush my teeth with my left-hand in a desperate attempt to stave off dementia.  Death doesn’t scare me half as much as a decrepit old age. 

Would it be nice to ride off into the sunset?   Yeah.   Would it be nice to sit in a rocking chair cradling a grandchild in my arms?   Most definitely.   Can I picture myself enjoying a leisurely retirement of travel and learning?  You betcha.  But I want to grow old on my own terms.   I want to be happy and pink with good health until I’m at least 100.   I want to be vibrant and sharp.  I want people to look at me and say “wow, look at her go”!   I want to be the poster child for how aging should be done. 

Growing old gracefully has its place, but I am not ready to do it yet.   The inevitable will happen.   But not without a fight.


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