It sort of snuck up and pounced out of some bush along the road of my life, this old age thing. We like to pretend the calendar and the clock don't matter. Sixty is the new forty, and all those kind of lies we tell each other.
But they do, indeed they do.
Such a gradual thing is time you don't see the mauling it inflicts. Inside you see yourself as you always have or at least as an image of yourself at some ideal moment. Even staring in the mirror day after day you only see the same face you think you have always seen because the creases grow so slowly.
Then someone takes a picture and you wonder, "Who is that old geezer?"
Oh, people try to deny it through various tricks. Popping pills to rejuvenate the liver. Going under a surgeon's knife to whittle away the wrinkles and pull cheeks up into that elongated permanent thin-lipped smile of the living mummified. It's like putting a hat on a bald head. The hat ain't you; take it away and the bald head is. Plastic may wrap you up in a pretty package, but inside the box is still a wilting flower.
It's the natural order of things. You can't dwell upon it because you can't defeat it. You learn to live in peace and a degree of harmony with it, but only after you recognize the truth. The truth is we all grow old and we all die.
I woke up one morning in late June and knew a line had been crossed. We talk about our birthday year as if we are in it. This is not so. When we have our birthday, we have finished with that year, we have ended it and the next day we begin our next year. See, we have this habit all our lives of saying we are 10 and a half, which is technically true, but we are really half of eleven. When I reached 69 in June, I was done with my sixties. The next day of my life was the first day of my seventies.
In 1950 my great grandparents looked like ancient pioneers. When I look at their photograph I am reminded of Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic," except my grandparents look older than the couple in the art piece.
Both my great grandparent died that year of natural causes. They were both 70 years-old. People said they lived a long life.
And here I am at the start of my 70th year.
I don't think I look as ancient as I perceived my great grandparents to be at that age, but I don't really know how others perceive me and my wife. When we are seated at a restaurant does the Host instruct a waitress to serve the elderly couple in the booth over there. Do small children shirk away from us the way I used to shirk away from my elderly Aunt Hattie?
Perhaps not, I'm not at the suspenders and pants so high they appear to be eating me stage yet. Still, I'm gray and wrinkly. I'm certainly pass the stage where pretty young women pay me any attention, unless they are a pretty young nurse preparing me for an EKG.
Frankly, I feel fairly good, not like anything major is disintegrating within. I hurt a lot. It takes me longer to get in and out of the car. I can't lift as much as I used to and I can't putter around doing chores as long as I used to and I can't run.
It isn't anything of a physical nature that pressed me on this issue of being old. It is just the flat reality of it. Life expectancy in the United States is 78.4 years. Now, certainly I know full well 78.4 isn't some deadline — literally — where you reach it and your keel over and assume room temperature. It's a kind of average and one can surpass it by many years. My dad will turn 92 in less than two months and my mother is 90. However, it gets harder to fudge the math now.
If you want to assume 80 as a tottering-on-the-brink year and you divide by three you get to be young until your 26.6 and middle age until your 53.2, and beyond that what are you? Okay, a lot of people don't see 53-54 as really old yet. So take 92, like my father and round it up a year to 93. Now you get to be young until 31, which a lot of people might agree with. You are middle aged until 62. Huh, 62 is still kind of middle aged? Then let's do 100 and you are middle aged until just about 67.
Sure, maybe I'll lived to be a hundred. There are estimated to be 200,000 centenarians in the world. That gives me a .0033% chance and believe me, you get better odds in a casino to make a million bucks.
Come on, let's admit that I am officially an old man. It isn't something to be ashamed of; it's almost an accomplishment. I'm not depressed about it. Outside this posting, I don't spend time thinking about it, other than it has made me take a different viewpoint of my future. There are changes I want to make.
In line with all that, I decided I need to sit back and do a bit more relaxing thing here for a while. I am going to do a Blog more in line with what a lot of Blogs are, a kind of rambling personal journal, a gathering of random thoughts that strike me, plus a bit of reminiscing. Now I am not abandoning my other Blogs. I'll eventually get back to them. I want to finish "Nitewrit's Own Harmony" someday, but for the here and now, hang on, you won't know what you'll get just yet.
But come back and see -- at least until I'm 78.4 years old.