Who is that old woman? She looks an awful lot like my mother. Yikes! I’m looking in the mirror and she is me. How did I get this old? For years, I’ve seen my mother when I looked in the mirror. In fact, since grade school, people have recognized my mother because I looked so much like her. But I didn’t see it until I was in my 40s or 50s.
Later this week, it’s my time to turn 70. John reached that milestone in February. Years ago, I saw a reference to women with crepe paper necks. I really know what that means today. It isn’t just my neck. It is my arms and my thighs. But probably the worst part is that I am shrinking. No, not losing weight. I am getting shorter. Apparently, our spines compress and we get shorter as we age. That means, I can weigh the same but be fatter around my middle. Yuk!
Some birthdays are more remarkable or significant than others. At 16, I got my driver’s license. At 21, I could legally drink. I’d rather be 40 than pregnant, I said (and meant it). Fifty—half a century—was significant. When I turned 60, we went on a hot air balloon ride. I had been over weight and out of shape for years. But for the previous 9 months I had been working out on weights and losing weight. I felt capable of getting in that balloon basket—and out. And the rather hard landing confirmed the idea I needed to be somewhat fit to do it.
In the past 10 years, I have become more fit than ever in my life. For over 5 years, I ran 3 miles a day—something I had sworn I would never do. And I loved it. But my aging body had different ideas.
At this age, I feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Somebody oil me! When I wake up, it is hard to get moving. It is really funny to watch me try to get down to the ground after I’ve been on my feet for some time. My joints do well when I keep moving, but if I keep them in one position for very long, they would rather no change position. “A body at rest, stays at rest; a body in motion, stays in motion,” so they say. However, I can no longer run with my arthritic knees—at least if I want to walk comfortably the rest of the day.
In addition to arthritis, I have been fighting high blood pressure for the last 13 or 14 years. I find I don’t have the energy I used to have. I used to work 8 hours, commute for a total of 60 to 90 minutes a day and spend the evening teaching a class at church or cleaning house or working on the computer till 10 at night. Can’t do that now.
All of this is the negative side and negative feelings. But all is not doom and gloom. I am grateful almost every day for what I can still do. This week we went on a 5- to 6-mile hike at 9,600 feet elevation. I look around at others in my age group and many won’t walk a block, much less 5 miles.
I am blessed with a husband I love and who is my best friend. We never run out of things to talk about. We have a great lifestyle, traveling the country in our RV. There are lots of places to go and things to see. I look forward to the future—it just isn’t as long a future as I used to plan for.
Life is good, even at the age of 70. What do you suppose I will be doing when I turn 80?