I turned 75 years old on July 30. This is the first birthday that seems undeniably like the beginning of old age — three quarters of the way to 100. Six years away from the average American female life expectancy of 81. No matter my fate, I am beginning to see the horizon and the setting sun behind it.
The past stretches out behind me like a vast Icelandic landscape.
What makes me feel more aware of age now?
- reading about aging. A lot of demographers often use three categories: young-old (65-74), middle-old (75-84), and old-old (85 and older). I’ve known for a decade that I was young-old. Now I face the next ten years without that reassuring label of “young.”
- walking with Stuart through a cancer diagnosis and treatment
- more awareness of my own bodily quirks, aches, and pains as well as more difficulty in recalling words “on the tip of my tongue”
- the prospect of two presidential candidates both older than I am
What makes me feel eternal youth? Keeps me in the present?
- when my 96-year-old mother makes our whole family laugh and when I kiss her soft cheeks
- when I sing with others, especially in church. This particular hymn “My Life Flows on in Endless Song” made popular by Enya in the 90s means more to me as years pass.
- when we choose a 25-mile bike ride along the Susquehanna to celebrate our 54th wedding anniversary August 2 after “watching the corn grow” on the Amish farm behind our friends’ house while sipping meadow tea and eating snicker doodles.
- when we spend a whole week with our grandson Owen in Iceland, a trip he chose as a coming-of-age (12 years old) adventure
- when I play with any or all of our grandchildren
- when I play pickleball
There’s so, so much to be grateful for. Old age is not just “better than the alternative.” It’s another adventure with its own perils and pleasures.
I would love to have you add to this list of pluses and minuses. Maybe we can all make each other’s lists longer!