A Blog by Gail Cushman
I have a mantra that I recite every morning as I look in the mirror, wondering who that old person is who is staring back at me. Gray hair and wrinkles and the hardware that sits on my nose and in my ears. My mantra, “Age is just a number,” reassures me that I have a few good years left, although the years are spilling by faster than I ever thought they would. My grandchildren are on the verge of being grown up, one is in the Marine Corps running up and down California hills with a fifty-pound pack on his back, two others are in driver’s ed (my advice is to stay off the sidewalks if you see them coming), and the youngest, well, she’s 13 going on 30.
This morning, when I turned on the news, I learned we have new categories of aging. I wasn’t all that happy with the past category of old age starting at 65, so I turned up the volume on the TV and flipped on the closed-caption feature so that I wouldn’t miss anything.
It’s good news! Middle-age is now 45 to 65; young-old is 65 to 74; middle-old is 75 to 84 (that’s me); and I will reach the very-old status in ten short years, at age 85. With any luck, the people who determine these guidelines will once again move the goalpost and the very-old status will suddenly be 95.
I think there are many things that affect our oldness besides that infernal number, don’t you? Among other things, our health, financial situation, and where we live can make us older or younger, and sometimes those are based on choices we made long ago. Maybe we are stuck, but maybe not? Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth, and decided it was in St. Augustine, Florida, but I spent two months there, and danced in the ocean and drank the St. Augustine water, but my hair stayed gray, and I couldn’t hear any better and I still had creaks and groans. I think it’s a bunch of hooey, although I did find a Walmart where I could have purchased a one-ounce bottle of Fountain of Youth water for a mere $4.95. Maybe I should have spent the money.
I think oldness is something else. It has to do with our individual outlook on life, making the best of what we have, and putting our best foot forward. Doing something, anything that makes us happy and puts smiles on our faces.
What keeps us young is different for everyone, for me it’s writing Wrinkly Bits and my silly novels. I still have a lot to do, a lot of words that are rattling around in the folds of my brain, anxious to tumble out. My imaginary friends Audrey and Logan, who are both in the middle-old age group, have more adventures to help me write.
For me, time is marching on faster than I like, but I’ll keep my fingers on my keyboard, rearranging the twenty-six letters of the alphabet into nonsensical stories until Audrey and Logan leave my brain.
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