While I wasn’t paying attention, I somehow grew older. Not old, mind you–just older. Sure, in some situations I might be considered a senior, or better, a seasoned citizen. And that’s fine at movie theaters, museums, or on the cross-town bus. You can refer to me as an older woman as long as you charge me less than the perky lass ahead of me, or offer me your seat. But don’t dare call me an old woman; not yet. After all, I can still launch a decent cartwheel, thread a needle with a bare eye, and prevail over my brilliant son at Scrabble. Sometimes, not always…
A chronic optimist, I occasionally find myself searching for that silver lining ahead, some glorious aspect of aging as I shrivel, shrink, and shake, clueless as to where I dropped my cane.
Recently, a kind nurse tending to my exceptionally old father-in-law shared some encouraging information. She claimed that the more “advanced in age” the patient, the less he or she tends to feel pain. Hence, my husband’s dad got by on a few EXTRA STRENGTH TYLENOL following his hip replacement a few years back. Now, there is something to which I can look forward. No, not a joint replacement, but less pain, regardless of what ails me. Who knew?
Let’s see. What else can we eagerly anticipate as the calendar grows thinner?
Much of my time these days involves trying to promote my recently published book, Naked Joy. I pause now and then to consider the feedback I have been receiving about this collection of mostly humorous essays depicting my full life. Notice I describe my past as full, not long. There is a difference and I like to think I still have a ways to go…
Let’s call the majority of my readers “mature.” Meaning they have been around the block more than once and lived to reflect, often with fondness, upon their journeys. Judging from most reports, these fans seem to relish my tales, which lure them into a past we all share in one way or another. Thirty some years ago, few of us would have given a hoot about the lives we tried to leave behind as we struggled to establish new ones. Whereas, nowadays we cherish the memories of those fleeting times. We might find ourselves longing to go back, if only through a movie, song or good book. Call it nostalgia, which psychologists claim has a positive effect on the brain. Never mind if most of our reflections are through rose-tinted lenses–as long as they make us smile.
I must admit there are times I have considered moving back to Japan, where I lived for several years as a younger woman. (Read about this and other adventures in Naked Joy!) There, where life expectancy is the highest in the world, the custom is for responsible and dedicated children to look after their aging parents until the very end. This care, a healthy diet, and ample sake must contribute to these folks’ longevity. Reportedly, Japan’s elderly are highly revered for their wisdom and tenacity. In fact, each September the country observes RESPECT FOR THE AGED DAY, with parties, gifts and pageantry. Seniors throughout the land wait ages to celebrate long and full lives.