Do you ever wonder how many years you have left on this earth? I don’t think about it too often, but a couple weeks ago I got older again.
Of all the f-words in the world, this one always felt the most unnerving. I thought 30 sounded like a real adult. I didn’t mind 40. But 50?
Thoughts race and distress creeps.
How did I get here already? Half a century? Does that mean I’m half-expired? I seriously thought getting older would take longer. Oh my gosh, what will the young people think?
My party of pity is interrupted with an inaudible voice: Whoa there, chica. Are you complaining about growing older? What’s the alternative? Would you rather be under dirt and grass? Would that be better than a few wrinkles and creaks?
I shouldn’t complain, but if someone forced me to write a letter to the National Council on Aging, it might sound like this:
I’d like to file a formal complaint regarding the unexpected changes to my aching body and highway of veins. The fine print in your contract appeared finer than my fine lines, and apparently my squinty eyes missed the “stiff joints in cold weather” section.
I always thought my grandpa exaggerated about that, but here we are.
Honestly, I did not anticipate any of these glitches to surface so quickly—at least not before someone called me Gigi, Mimi, or Abuela. Please advise about your extended warranty sooner rather than later; I’m not sure how much longer I have.
Fifty? Sheesh. That’s like double arp status.
I like saying double arp. It rhymes with sharp, which makes me wonder how many people would rather stick a needle in their eye before admitting how old they are. What a
stupid painful choice that would be.
Also, “arp” doesn’t sound like a real word if you’re under 50, but it’s kinda fun to say and way less aggressive than “DOUBLE-ARP!” in your face.
And then this came in the mail, 12 days before my birthday:
Twelve. Days. Early. Wow, arp people. You couldn’t wait until I officially entered the new decade with which I’m almost ready to begin acknowledging is here? I know you haven’t invited me to be on your marketing team, but if you want people to like you, you don’t remind them of a significant birthday before it happens.
Consider sending a birthday card first. Then a gentle announcement that they’re almost old enough to benefit from your incredible program. Then a card with a free insulated trunk organizer offer.
Idiots. Worst birthday gift ever.
And no, I’m not ready to “activate my card and explore my benefits,” gracias very mucho. Do you seriously think it’s worth getting $2.99 off my dinner if I have to present an old person’s card to a waitress who hasn’t even cut her last few molars yet? You can keep your three bills and I’ll keep my dignity for a few more
If you’re around my age, “Why did I come in this room?” set in years ago. But now it’s less funny. My slightly older husband looks at me and thinks forgetting is normal. My kids look at me like I forget because I’m old. If our dog were still alive she’d follow me back to the room from which my thought was snatched. But she wouldn’t judge; she knew how it felt to wander aimlessly.
Did I mention I got glasses a few months ago? Two pairs. I’m anti-progressives, so I walked in blurry and walked out with two pairs like a confident woman in denial. Apparently, I have a long-distance and a close-up problem. I’m special.
Just a Number?
If you’ve been a Christian for a minute, you might be familiar with 1 Timothy 4:12. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” I championed this first part into my 30s, but now I’d like to flip the script. Shout out to all the older people who feel looked down on because of their older age!
Younger people can joke about it, but until you personally feel the effects of age, you don’t get it. I watched my grandparents go from active, to slow, to stationary. I wonder how it felt to be stuck with crippled hands, or in a wheelchair, or in a different brain space.
I wish I could tell all the older humans who don’t feel like they have a purpose anymore that they’re still loved, valuable, wanted, and needed. Age truly doesn’t matter—it’s how you love God and love others that matters.
The second part of the verse is the challenge to all:
“…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (NIV)
If I take the verse literally, then I should be setting an example to everyone around me, older and younger. Do I get to be the example now? Learn from the older and help the younger? I think that’s how midlife works, right?
I don’t have the answers, but it sounds better than a Ferrari and regrets.
As candles multiply on our cakes, so do the collection of memories and stories etched in our laugh lines. I’m learning to embrace them, remembering those we’ve lost in their youth who probably wished they could’ve made it to the wrinkly stage.
Heaven will obviously be infinitely better than this earth, but while we’re here we might as well embrace the life we’ve been given. Even with muscle cream, fuzzy eyes, and popping veins.
“Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.”
~ Mark Twain
My husband hit it out of the park when he surprised me with my sister from Washington, a trip to Baja, and friends…
This number felt a little rough, but I will always remember my sister’s words about age: “How old are you? Loud and proud, baby!”
Hi, I’m Carrie, I’m 50, and I am grateful for another year around the sun. Also, I don’t want to discuss medical procedures (yours or mine) for at least another decade.