My son told me the other day that a woman he didn’t know approached him and asked him how I was doing. He didn’t think of asking for the woman’s name because the latter apparently thought that my son knew her. So, to get an idea as to the woman’s identity, I made my son describe her.
“Short-haired, fair-skinned, bespectacled and old.”
“Old?” I asked. “How old?”
“About your age.”
Ouch. That stung.
I immediately ran to the nearest mirror and looked at my reflection. Hard.
Over the years, my smooth, supple skin has given way to fine lines, deep wrinkles, crow’s feet, laugh/worry lines, turkey neck, spotted hands, warts, corns and calluses.
My thick, silky, cascading mane is now a tumble of dull, wiry, unruly hair that feeds generously on conditioner. My hairline is receding, and gray hairs generously pepper my head. My brows and lashes are wimpy.
Stubborn fats—double chin, love handles, saddle bags, flabby thighs, ugly bulges—have taken permanent residency in every part of my once-gorgeous body.
My arms (and my breasts!) are sagging, stretch marks adorn my chest and tummy, and varicose veins are starting to show on my legs.
My once-melodious voice that could rival that of my namesake’s (the siren Lorelei of the Rhine River, who is believed to lure fisherfolk and sailors to their death with her melodious singing) is now a grating sound that’s irritating even to my own ears.
And speaking of ears, I’m already a bit hard of hearing. So when talking to me, I would appreciate it if you speak a little louder and clearer. Or, better yet, use sign language.
My eyesight is now faulty, too. Even with my reading glasses on, I sometimes find it hard to read books and text messages. Passing a thread through the eye of a needle is a hopeless endeavour.
My bones have grown brittle over time. An hour of gardening or any activity that requires crouching, lifting, squatting, bending or even sitting for an extended amount of time could result to a painful crunching of joints. My dog doesn’t dare enter my bedroom when this happens. It is reeking of the pungent smell of liniment.
Where I used to have a back-straight-as-a-ramrod posture when I was younger, it is now hunched or stooped (Spending my days glued in front of the computer to write articles like this is only aggravating the situation!), my smart gait has caved in to slow, dragging steps, and my balance has grown weaker and poorer. Going up and down the stairs could reduce me to a huffing, puffing and chugging choo-choo train.
Sexually, I am in no better shape. My intimate encounters with my husband are no longer as frequent, enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling as before. No more marathon sessions and daring positions for us, either.
That may be the primary reason why I am extremely grouchy and short-tempered these days. Loud music, waiting in lines, crowds, unruly kids, barking dogs, honking of cars — almost everything could be a cause of annoyance for me! To uplift my mood, I may decide to go to the mall to do some shopping but that, too, tires me easily. So, I sometimes choose to meet with friends, instead. However, a few minutes with them and my mood takes a nosedive. Instead of talking about and immersing ourselves in the good, ol’ days, our chats usually gravitate towards health concerns, problems with children and grandchildren, hubby woes, financial worries, and the likes.
It’s as if fun has taken a hike and left us behind!
But do you know what’s really keeping me up at nights and scaring the living daylights out of me? It’s the consuming fear that I might end up like Allie of the famous Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook. That I would wake up one day with virtually no memory of my life. That my mind would be a hollow vessel wiped clean of all the remnants of my past and present. That I can no longer remember or even recognize everyone and everything that I hold dear in my heart. That I will, one day, look at my husband and my kids and all I will see are the faces of strangers.
Now, my flawed memory is already making me forget where I put things such as my key or my pen and my eyeglasses or my phone. It’s making me forget the reason that compelled me to go to a particular room. It’s making me forget my PINs and passwords and contact numbers. It’s making me forget if I already turned off the lights or locked the doors before I had to retire for the night, or if I had already added salt to the dish I was cooking. It’s making me forget the passionate tirade I thoughtfully prepared and memorized for one of my kids when he gets home. It’s making me forget their names that when I have to call one of them, I end up yelling every other family member’s name (including our dogs’) before I get to the correct one.
These temporary memory lapses could still be amusingly attributed to “senior moments”, but for how long? What if my flawed memory decides to get an upgrade from a simple forgetfulness to, say, Dementia?
Hay, life is hard. But getting old makes it exponentially harder.
Speaking of getting old, it is almost my birthday. Yay! That entitles me to a self-accorded privilege to dish out some pieces of advice and words of wisdom. So here goes.
To those who are still young, savor your youth. I’m telling you, it won’t last long.
To those who would like to believe that life starts at 40, don’t kid yourselves. You know that your body is telling you an entirely different story.
To those who are already over the hill, I take my hat off to you. You have made the long and arduous journey — with you still alive and kicking. I hope that I could be as tough and fearless and daring as you obviously are because I am now coming to realize – quite painfully – that aging is not for wimps.