It is the season of our births. I'm an August baby. Ed is a September baby. We are, naturally, feeling contemplative about the years lived and the years yet to live.
|Ed & Fran|
It was just a small party. Not a birthday party, just a gathering of long time friends, complete with Whidbey Island's notable food and talk. Not dissimilar from the many get togethers we'd attended over the years, yet different. Changed in ways I should have seen coming, but I'd somehow missed. Suddenly, everyone was old. Stooped old. Overweight old. Creaky old. Curmudgeonly old. How did I not notice this happening? I'm fully aware that our once youthful town had grown into a town of gray haired retired folks. But, not old, not really. Just an aging population. One-by-one we were living lives without the daily grind of work, but still standing upright, still alert, still active -- walking! hiking! biking! fishing! sailing! traveling! We were still fully engaged, perky even.
Yet, there was another thing I noticed at this party besides our physical condition. Our conversation content had changed too. Topics had subtly moved from the doing-of-life to the undoing-of-life. The latest health crisis held our attention as we discussed the ways our bodies were unraveling. We all nodded and listened and understood. After all, we're all standing in the same line.
I'd had my own health crisis in 2013 with five surgeries and no energy to spare. My usual activities were simply too much and I had to bite my tongue to avoid talking about health-related issues. Now, two years later, I feel so much better I'm thinking I've simply bypassed old.
|Too old to play? Not yet!|
Then I look around at my peers and understand the depth of my self-deception. At 75 I see lots of obituaries of others my age. I stand up a little straighter and look aging in the eye-balls and say, "No, not yet!" I still have things to do. I'm thinking, 105 might give me enough time. Might!!! Or perhaps my goal is 400 like a good friend who is hanging onto that number as her choosen life span. Her very cool doctor said, on her mentioning this to him, "let me know if there's any way I can help you with that."
The last two days I've gardened like a crazy woman pulling the salmonberry off a hillside, uprooting blackberries, uncovering and restoring a damaged woodland. This is the work I love and at the end of the day my arms are bleeding from thorn scratches. I am exhausted! My body is creaky, my feet are sore, but I am high as a kite. On this wonderfully windy day I feel frisky like Benton when he's on a rip with wind in his ears.
|Benton, the Cutest Aussie Ever|
A glass of wine, food, an aspirin, and sleep heal me. It feels good to kick all those years-of-my-life in the butt! Tomorrow I bike, kicking my ol' butt two days in a row.
And I read, in this season of our births, Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande, a surprisingly upbeatish book about aging. Do read it!
“It's paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone.”
~ Andy Rooney