How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was? — Satchel Paige
I was so excited when I realized that I would be submitting this column on my birthday!
Maybe you’ve seen those awful posts online (on Defacebook, for instance, chastising Diane Keaton or Julia Roberts, or another famous female star for growing old naturally. It’s a social media sin, apparently.
Actually, a few gob-smackingly horrible candid photos notwithstanding, I’ve been feeling rather good about aging, and realized I happen to know more than a few marvelous, motivated women in the “Crone-Zone” who are feeling the same way.
What better birthday gift to give myself and my readers than to ask some of those women to share their wit and wisdom on the subject while essentially writing my column for me.
They come variously from the corporate world, the arts, education, etc., and either they’re still at it or pursuing new interests. Betty C. declares: “I became aware for probably the first time in my life, that I am actually ‘old.’ How and when did I become 76? What happened? One day I’m running up and down the stairs tending to a wood furnace day and night, and the next I am cautiously holding on to the railings on both sides. When did I start needing to sit down to put on my pants? Everything is a surprise at this age … like Forest Gump and his box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. The good surprises? The time and ability to travel, opportunities to be of service, the freedom of not being attached to outcomes, and a deeper appreciation of family and friends.”
N.B. says: “I was just thinking about the friends that I’ve made and kept literally since childhood, continuing through my teens, high school, college, career, marriage, parenthood, and making new ones every year, in this wonderful, ever-changing community of Shelter Island. What a gift!”
Amy W. tells me: “I am flattered to be on your list … however, I am not quite at my fourth quarter. I turned a mere 74 last month and am one of the youngsters here at Peconic Landing. I do struggle with aging as I [still] dream to be Peter Pan. There is longevity in my family, and I plan to spend many more year’s aging.”
Ellen G. shared this: “Sometimes, when that ‘hamster wheel’ goes round and round in my head, I do think about things like how my body will deteriorate — will I lose my mind and start drooling? I am grateful that those are fleeting thoughts, and I don’t give them much credence. I’m a positive person and I work at living with a sense of purpose, having friends of all ages, staying active, socializing, honoring my boundaries, getting proper rest, and including God in my daily life … the bottom line is, I believe that a good life is when you smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are for what you have.”
Marilynn P. finds that: “I have to cheat much more often when doing The New York Times Sunday Crossword and it takes my husband and me to figure out someone’s name or remember where we put something. That aside, I feel good about being my age … I’ve taken good care of myself. As my husband and I say, we’re glad we lived when we lived and are glad we will die when we die … we feel the world is going to hell and, for the most part, people are too selfish to make the changes they need to make to save it.”
Old friend, Toni A., contributes this: “I am so thrilled to be retired. Not a day goes by that I don’t ponder how lucky I am not to be jolted each morning at an ungodly hour by a satanic alarm clock! I am finally comfortable in my own skin —truly ‘me’ —I am no longer concerned about what people think of me but rather what I think of myself. I try to spend my time only with people and things I like or love. I now have the foresight and courage to discard the people who no longer nourish my soul.“
Gayle E. says, succinctly: “The best things about being old: no more colonoscopies, no more jury duty and, at least in New Jersey, no more DMV license renewal, though I will miss the very long lines and angry people. Things that never used to be: Kleenex in every pocket, and Salon Pas and Aspercream in every room.”
Thanks, ladies! Oh, and guess what early birthday present I received as I was swaggering towards this new Crone milestone. A really nasty cold with a side of humility. At least I know where to look for my Kleenex.