Saturday, November 22, 2014

                                                             2014 A.D.   

     A few weeks ago, one of my close friends asked me, “Are those all your own teeth?” Omg. I was so dumbfounded, I began to laugh. I said, “What? Are you kidding?” We both laughed, but then I got to thinking. When has anyone every asked me such a question? Surely not when I was 30 or 40 or even 50. I guess this is the sign of aging: having all your own teeth. I am proud to say my father had all of his until he died at age 93, but my Mom’s floated in a plastic cup when I was a teenager.

     There are many things about aging that are depressing and demoralizing, but the good news is this: if you are standing up, breathing, able to utter a sentence using your own tongue and incisors, you are youthful. Now there’s a concept. People are amazed that I can walk in four inch heels. I am amazed they can balance in flats. People are stunned that I work out with weights and can get out of bed without aches and pains. Some people think it’s incredible that I drove to Europe and traveled alone for three weeks sans Mr. Wonderful. Well, in my AD (Age Denial) therapy, this is all good news: maybe I’m not as old as I thought. 

     I remember when I was in my forties, I thought my grandparents were ancient. My maternal grandmother was still working in an “old folks home” as an RN at age eighty something, so I do recall being amazed at her stamina. When she told me that the most amazing thing in her lifetime was seeing an airplane fly into the sky, I thought, “Wow, Grandma, you are really old.” But what I didn’t realize was the outer cover tells nothing about the inner person. Just because she was wrinkled didn’t mean she was past her prime. Just because she didn’t speak loudly and wasn’t animated didn’t mean she didn’t feel things deeply and find things funny. 

     As my father aged, he began to hunch over a bit. That made him look much older than he was. He was a tall, handsome man with gorgeous wavy white hair, and he danced like Fred Astaire until he was well into his 80s. His golf scored never varied more than 3-5 strokes from the time he was 60 until he stopped playing when he was close to 90. A 45 for nine holes wasn’t bad for an “old guy.” I would surely take that.
My father modeled youth. He not only danced and played golf, he played the piano and the guitar, he traveled with his sweetheart until well into his 80s, and he never stopped being silly. He wasn’t one to sit around and talk about how the world was going to hell. He focused on what sit com he would watch after golf while he ate his ice cream cone.

     My mother didn’t have time to age. Cancer took her from us at age 73. She was still partying right up to the end inviting friends to come visit while the oxygen tank sat next to her stilettoed feet. 

     I am learning about the aging process as I live it. I find that my attitude is what ages me most, and I must constantly try to focus on the positive rather than compare the negative to what used to be. What helps most is seeing the world through the eyes of a child, putting on my silly lens when I am frustrated, picking up those ten-pound weights no matter how unmotivated I feel and remembering that every minute counts no matter how I look. Right now, I am going to go brush my own teeth.