Unwelcome Surprises


I read enough when I was young to expect this. But even so, I wonder why my mother didn’t warn me? I wonder why my aunts didn’t mention this stuff.

Of course I knew that kids always want to be older and adults long to be young again. Sure I understood that youth is wasted on the young. But I got accustomed to being in me, and I fell for that feeling that I would never change. After all, today isn’t much different than yesterday was, that way. When people asked, as people do, how does it feel to be whatever age I just turned on any birthday, the honest answer was always that I feel just the same age as I did a day ago.

And yet …

First there was the shock of being called “ma’am” by a young adult (just like I remember my father observing how old it made him feel, when attractive young women began smiling at him on the street, because he was clearly safe).

Then there was the loss of leg and underarm hair, replaced by the sprouting of stiff whiskers from places where I never dreamed I had a follicle. Or the diminution of fat I never knew I loved, in cheeks and lips, to name eight places. This was counterbalanced by an accumulation of adipose tissue in the low belly – I never stopped the ab work so what caused that?

How about the creeping loss of dermal elasticity? The readiness to bruise and the reluctance to heal? The time, not long ago, when I complained to the dermatologist about some cracking at the corners of my lips and she said, as if she explained this to patients regularly, “Oh, that’s just from food particles that are getting stuck in your wrinkles.” WTF?

Or when I asked the periodontist what he thought about the dentist’s suggestion for whitening treatments and maybe some veneers? He sat back, gazed at me for a second, and said, “Your smile shows a lot of teeth; where would you stop?” I countered with, “So you don’t think it’s a good use of money? You like my caramel teeth?” and he said, “They match your face.”

These are small shocks on my way. Little bumps on the road.

No one ever told me that, if one is lucky enough to have a long life, one spends most of one’s time being old. I had to learn that from my dog. But hey, I learned a lot from her on the subject. To use what works. To rest what doesn’t. To give it all a bit of time, because some of those annoying bumps and lumps go away for awhile.

I’ll never be as young again as I am today. I need to do today right.

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