Well it's official now people. I am old. My Medicare Card arrived in the mail today. I am honestly a little bummed.
Not by the Medicare Program itself, no, that could be a good thing. And honestly, I paid into it my entire working life so it's about time I saw a return on that investment. (grumblegrumble). But just knowing that next month I can actually USE this Medicare Card makes me feel a little like Methuselah. The words sound weird coming out of my mouth. "I have a Medicare Card". When I make the appointment for my upcoming mammogram and they ask about my insurance I have to say, "Medicare". Yowza!
Ours is a culture that doesn't just celebrate youth, it practically deifies it. Plastic surgery to look younger; creams, lotions and treatments for younger looking skin; 60 is the new 40 the headline proclaims; the penultimate compliment is to appear to look younger than you are. Being young, or at least being mistaken for being young, is the goal. Anything less and you get the big ignore. Being old is like being invisible.
I have thought that I was old other times in my life. And then I was wrong. Those were not the times. This is.
I thought I was old when I got my first "ma'am". Ouch! My head snapped up and I gave that kid such a glare! Which he didn't deserve. He called it as he saw it. And a harried 26 year old, juggling 3 kids under the age of 4, a diaper bag and a purse, a grocery cart with a wonky wheel and a Zero budget for fashion or beauty is definitely a ma'am. Even I get it now. That day, back then, it was an emotional blow to the ego. But I wasn't actually old then.
I thought I was old when my oldest boy became a teenager. There is nothing that quite matches the look of disdain on the face of a freshly hatched 13 year old when their mother tells them to do something they do not want to do. I adored all of my childen, always. Every moment of every day from the instant they were born, they were the bright and shining lights of my life. And we had beautiful relationships, meaningful, strong, respectful and even fun. Until the day they became teenagers and I got "that" look. You know the one. It says, "You are old and stupid" to their parents. My boys were always polite and respectful. They never once actually said the words out loud, but we knew each other so well that I could read it in their eyes. Their teen years actually went far more smoothly than most so I don' have actual complaints, but it was the beginning of the divide from being my children to being individuals separate from me. And while we always continued to love each other through it all, I began to feel really old. But I wasn't actually old then.
I thought I was old as each boy graduated from high school. The were so close in age that it almost felt like it happened all at the same time. They stepped out into the real world, ready to make their way and no longer needed me in their lives. The fact that they still wanted me in their lives was a wonderful bonus, but honestly they didn't require me. They could now vote, make large purchases, all decisions and join the military if they wished. They could have gotten married, had medical treatment without my knowledge and live on their own, paying their own bills, making their own decisions and living their lives. The house got emptier and emptier and I felt older and older. But I wasn't actually old then .
I thought I was old the year I turned 50. I walked around for days in a daze saying, "Oh my God, I'm a half a century!" No other birthday ever bothered me before or since. But the 50th, yeah, that one was rough. And that doggone AARP sending me monthly cheery, chirrupy little notices, suggesting that I join, with a card already attached by the way to make it easier for an old, creaky, helpless, worthless woman such as myself. The fact that they included literature with photos of deliriously happy, white and silver haired, wrinkled coots playing golf didn't help one damned bit either. By the way, they still send me monthly literature and I still haven't joined. Anything from AARP goes, unopened, right in the trash. I might be missing out on some fabulous deals and information but I refuse to have anything to do with them. I'm sure my resistance goes right back to that awful 50th birthday and yet, that's what I do. And still I wasn't actually old then.
When they boys married I felt old. I was now not just somebody's mother, I was somebody else's Mother-in-law and mother-in-law sounds way older than mother. They were beautiful, joyous occasions and I adore all 3 of my daughters-in-law but it was another step forward into feeling elderly. Thought I actually wasn't old yet.
This year however, this year I will turn 65. This time, even the Federal Government has declared me old. So now I suppose it's for real. This upcoming birthday doesn't bother me a bit. I don't actually feel any older right now than I did when I was 50 or 40 or 30 for that matter. I just feel like me. Ok wait, I take that back. I do feel different. I feel stronger, wiser and far more confident than I have at any other point in my life.
So I guess maybe, this getting old thing isn't all that bad. I'm in good health, fairly good physical shape and the brain is still sharp enough that I am confident that I could answer all the question on the mental competency test correctly (whew!) My life is busy and happily so, I have friends and family whom I love and who love me back. There are so many things that interest me, things like experimenting with cooking and baking and pilates and ESL teaching and photography and writing and reading and the museum to fill my days. I think it's all going to be ok.
So I'll leave it at this, I may now be officially Federally mandated old, but I am happy and healthy and as long as it stays that way, I think I will do "old" just fine. And if the youngsters want to ignore me or disregard me or think that I no longer serve a purpose in this world, well I'm old enough now to know that one day, someone will treat them they same way. Hah! Full Circle baby. It always comes back to bite ya.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.