I have been asked to continue writing about getting older. As I said, it’s not a subject that brings great joy, although I do remember asking my father how was it for him to grow older and he said, “It beats the alternative.”
So here goes…
In our teens, the world is all in front of us. Life seemingly will go on forever. We think about what we will do in the future. It’s all about getting more educated, more intelligent, more savvy, more involved, and taking on more and more responsibility.
When we are young adults, we begin to move toward our goals as best we can. There may be bumps in the road, but we have time.
Those of us who marry and have children spend the next years so involved in day to day life that at some point as the children reach adolescence, we think, “When did the time pass?” Suddenly, we are the older generation.
The children grow up and get married and that is good. And then, babies appear. Oh, they are so cute and lovable and sweet. And then we realize, we are grandparents. How did that happen?
But we are still young and active, or so we feel. As much as we look forward to retirement, the 50s and early 60s have us working at the top of our game.
And then, while we are still feeling like we’re in our 30s or 40s, that ugly number 65 appears.
And suddenly we realize that in the best of cases, we have more to look back on than to look forward to. In front of us is decline.
So we again focus on each day. We set up events to look forward to. We go out to eat. We meet friends. We travel to faraway places. We live each day fully.
The small concerns about falling or about having a strange lump or bump or reaction to an insect bite suddenly appear to be a threat that finally something is going to get you… because like it or not, at some age, you begin to realize you won’t live forever and then any threat to one’s health becomes a reason for concern. Maybe this is the thing that’s going to get me.
Of course I need to admit that when I was about 33, I had a lump on my arm, just below my elbow. For weeks, or maybe months, I was afraid to go to the doctor to ask what it was. I began having dreams about swimming around in circles with my one arm (they’d apparently amputated the other) and decided that it was time to see the doctor. I don’t even remember what he said, but it was truly nothing and I can still swim straight. But I do tend to envision the worst possible outcome when something is wrong and when I don’t, I tell myself that I am in denial… And, I think it gets worse the older I get.
Let’s hope I have another 40 years or so to worry….