Thursday, February 25, 2010

Drinking from the fountain

Truly, I wish I could have started this blog when I was in my 40's and could have shared the birth of my 4th child during that period. Or perhaps, if I could have blogged in my 50's, you would have learned of the counseling (both marriage and personal) I endured to "find" myself. Because I felt invisable.

But now as I sit at The Fountain of Aging blog, I'm 68 years old -- ancient by the Chinese traditions) I have so much to learnn and share about this shunned, denied and often feared time of passage -- getting old.

When did I drink from this fountain and begin to realize it's many effects. Yes, I needed glasses at 40, several plastic surgeries at 50 and major eyelifts by 67; but when was it, I finally accepted the fact -- "You are old, lady!" Because that acceptance keeps getting pushed back beyond my consciousness into the dark parts of my mind where it hides. Old, ancient, grandparent, widow (not yet) wrinkles, flabby arms, prune lips , grey hair-- how our culture denies these normal rites of passage. Yes, and how I deny them too with dyeing my hair (even though I get dizzy for a week after the process) oh, and I do this every 5 weeks. I feel flattered and happy when friends tell me I don't look my age. The other day a friend heard me state my age as 68. She said, "You are really 68?!! Yes, I replied. Then she said, "Why don't you act it then?" I laughed heartily at that little bit of flattery because I know I don't act or look 68; but I AM. Yes, I AM old and trying desperately to hide it. This is just not possible; but still I try and so do most adults in our culture. We lie to ourselves and say, "We don't look my age." Therefore, we must not be old or aging. But the Fountain of Aging continues to stream droplets of truth with wrinkles, memory loss, fatigue, and other drops of misty accents.

This summer I attended the 90th birthday of my aunt. Her mind is still sharp, she looks wonderful and her sense of humor and grace was truly wonderful to see. How has she managed to drink from the fountain and deal with her health, broken back, death of spouse and childless life? At her party, were 8 friends as old as she and just as vibrant.

I'm writing about aging so that I can understand it and my passage through it and so my daughters and sons, friends and others can share with me their insights on their fears and questions on becoming old.

Becoming -- what a hopeful word. But when we put it before old, its not so hopeful. Is it? We all wish we could stop getting older. We even give the wish to our baby kittens and puppies and babies when we say "Oh if only they could stay little forever! What we are really wishing is for eternal youth. Ongoing beauty, strong legs, quick reflexes and a mind that remembers. These are the things we forfeit as we gain years and longevity. But if we stayed young forever, we would be like Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall -- childlike with no history or memories but forever young.

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