I stood there, as if on a gigantic calendar, with my right foot planted on November 2 and my left foot stuck on day before, straddling the line, a little hesitant to complete the leap from 61 to 62 but not fully understanding why. And so, because I truly value understanding, not only of myself, but also the world around me, I decided to mull it over for a bit, toss it and turn it until the puzzle pieces finally linked together and everything made sense again.
In short, I was in a lousy mood that was prompted by two teeny, tiny events involving two little words–two little words that, on the outside seem inconsequential and harmless and even charming given in the right context, but they invoked in me an unsettledness, a wounding of my spirit, if you will. But it is here that I will digress.
I suppose there is an art to growing old. By most standards, I’ve been old for two years now—had some practice—could use some more. It all started when I graduated from my 50‘s to #60 and began to receive the perks of old age—they were great—a smaller monthly payment for car insurance, 15% discount every third Thursday at the local “everything mart,” and always a nice young man at the grocery store to call me “ma’am,” carry my bounty to my car and send me off with a wish for a happy day. But the sands of time go a bit deeper than senior citizen perks and so does my angst…
A few days ago, I was happily giving a lift home to my granddaughter from high school when, out of the blue, she suddenly blurted out “Gramma, you are so ADORABLE—you’re the most ADORABLE grandma in the world.” This followed on the heels of my daughter stating just two days earlier, “Mom, you’re so CUTE,” (because I felt too tired to drive home to my apartment, so I was going to stay at her house for the night.) She laughed and reminded me that it’s probably only two miles to my apartment, and that I was just so “doggone CUTE.” Both times, I had the same gut reaction; my stomach tightened, my smile drooped—part of me was instantly offended—a big part, yet why the innocuous words CUTE and ADORABLE would cause me to recoil like a cat being doused with a tub of cold water eluded me. Thus, the mulling over and the tossing and turning began, ran its course, and this is what I came up with.
I may never know exactly why I was labeled CUTE and ADORABLE–the why remains a mystery to me, and I guess I’m okay with that. But this much I do know; I hesitated to turn 62 because the older I get, the more childlike I’m treated. It’s as if I have become, not an adult woman to be respected, but rather a child to be coddled and cooed at. This despite the many years I’ve lived and learned, suffered and overcame, sinned and been covered by grace, enjoyed the many splendored things and begged God for the relief of death, bore four children–put one child in the ground, made sacrifices only I and God know about, loved and lost and loved and lost again, dined on the nectar of success but also knew the acrid taste of failure, seen beauty through the eyes of a child, as well as the ugliness of a soul that’s lost its way; and yet, through it all, I have endured. I still hold dear my abiding faith in God above, still love till it hurts and give till I’m broke, still forgive the trespass and embrace the sinner, still trust in the goodness of others till I’m proven wrong, still lift my family and friends up in prayer and try my darndest to give my kids and grandkids a sense of the eternal, in the face of adversity.
I know in my own mind that I am not getting any younger, even while people are starting to give me that vibe. If I had my druthers, I would just ask that people recognize that I’m over 60 years old, because I’ve bled profusely for my crow’s feet and my gray hairs and jowls and for the loss of many whom I have cherished. There is a physical scar forever etched on my forehead (a byproduct of an accident that occurred while I was out of my mind from bipolar disorder). It is my red badge of courage. I’m no stranger to the barren solitude and degradation of depression so deep that I honestly believed I was burning in the underbelly of hell; and, even now, a nightmare will haunt me and remind me of that dark time.
But, through it all, with God’s love and mercy, I have endured. I have learned to be content with who I am, what I have and where I’m at. Through all of it, I grew up and pressed forth—and I aged.
Deep down, I know that the intent behind the words “cute” and “adorable” was not to hurt or demean me; and, furthermore, that, however much those words stung, I know for certain that it was with love that they were spoken. But, doggone it, I’m a woman of age, I have a history, and I certainly shouldn’t be retrogressed with terms of endearment one would give to a “cute” and “adorable” child—or puppy, for that matter.
Eventually, like all of us, I will be released to my heavenly Father, and will be rewarded for, what, I hope will be, a race well run; not as a child who has been lovingly sheltered from the ravages of life, but as the scarred and battle-weary adult that I am.
I am getting older. Every day I am reminded of that fact, with new aches and pains popping up in places I never knew existed. And I’m physically slowing down (that part scares me a bit because, I’ve always meandered and moseyed and poked around at a snail’s pace, and that doesn’t leave me with much room to wiggle.)
Perhaps, Future Me will be bent over a walking stick or folded into a wheelchair or bedridden, or I’ll lose a limb to diabetes or maybe I will simply just sit around and drool from a toothless mouth, never speaking but always, always dreaming. But, regardless of my circumstances, it is my desire–No, it’s more than that–it is my DEMAND to be treated as an ADULT—as a woman of age, of character, and of significance because, simply put and, with all due respect—its been a long time coming; and, by golly, I’ve earned it.
November 2, 2017 – age 62