The second year I was in Junior Choir and Nana was choir leader, I asked my grandmother her age. She replied 103. The next time she came to our house for Sunday dinner, she told us that one of her junior choir members (not me) had asked her if she really was 103 years old. “I wonder wherever she got that idea?” my grandmother asked, looking across the table at elder granddaughter.
I was never one for coy answers like “As old as my tongue, and a little older than my teeth,” or “That’s for me to know and you to find out,” or (my mother’s stock reply) “A lady never divulges her age.” If someone asked, I would tell them. How old I was never bothered me before this year.
But now, as I’m heading toward a milestone birthday that is light years away from 30 or 45 or even um 50, it’s all I think about. Dealing with ageism, a couple of health issues and getting older, in general, has given me some cause for concern. There are other matters of contention. Here I am turning um throat clearing mumble and I still haven’t published novel number 1, written novels 2 through 10, revisited England, or married.
I recall a telephone conversation with my dad where he told me that my sister had referred to him as “old.” He was very indignant about it. He didn’t see himself as old at all. A few conversations later, he mentioned that he had been selected for jury duty, but when he phoned the clerk’s office and told them he was old and had trouble getting downtown, he was excused. After hanging up, there was something about this conversation that niggled at me. However, by the next time dad and I spoke, I had figured it out. When I pointed out the “hypocrisy” he replied, “Sometimes being my age comes in handy.”
On interesting headcase days and I think about getting older, I beat myself up for not accomplishing at least one of the above. On good days, when I look in the mirror, I see my accomplishments, personal strengths and someone I’m proud of. Still, February is coming and with it this milestone birthday, the thought of which makes me a little shaky. Denial is not a place I visit very often, but there’s a secret part of me that wishes I could stop time this New Year’s Eve.