Growing Older - Where's the Off Switch?

Contributing Writer - Beth WiesemannJuly 3, 2013 

Like screen legend Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Of course, Bette might have had an easier time of it if she hadn’t continued to chain smoke into her nineties. Likewise, if I hadn’t spent 20 years carrying around an extra eighth-grader on my midsection, I would be a little less achy myself at the ripe old age of 46. I actually think I feel much better now than when I started harping on my age in my Turning 40 article. Nevertheless, there are still many unavoidable downsides of aging six more years that weight loss alone can’t counter.

For instance, I have less patience. (Incidentally, this article was originally going to be about impatience, but I couldn’t come up with ideas quickly enough.) As bad as it sounds to say, the people I’m least patient with are my parents who, for obvious reasons, are older than I am. It’s not so much the irritation but the concern that I may ultimately inherit the wrong combination of traits from them. Dad can’t hear so well anymore. Mom lost the ability to navigate the TV remote years ago. If my hearing goes, the inability to turn up the volume on the TV could be a problem. I’m not married and I have no children. This means that there will be no one to press the up/down button for me.

Seeing the TV hopefully won’t be an issue. I’m still able to see most things without glasses. However, I’m finding that reading is getting a little less pleasant without my “computer” glasses. The good news is that my arm is still long enough to hold most printed material at a reasonable distance to sort of read every other word. As numerous Facebook brainteaser eye charts have proven, as long as you can make out every other word, your brain will automatically fill in the rest. The only real concern I have is that it’s taking a much stronger light for me to see well enough to pluck that irritating chin hair. (Yeah, another sure sign of aging is pretending that it’s even remotely accurate to say chin hair – like there’s only one.)

When I’m inclined to get depressed at the sight of gray hairs on my head, I cheer up a little bit when I realize that, for 46, I don’t really have much gray hair. But then I’m quickly depressed again at the thought that I’m old enough to consider myself lucky that I don’t have more gray hair. It’s kind of like swimming in the ocean and getting caught in a riptide. As you’re about to drown, you consider yourself lucky that you aren’t being attacked by a shark. Hopefully aging won’t diminish my ability to rationalize.

One thing that has definitely diminished is my ability to move freely unless I stretch a lot. It’s not that stretching is a problem. I love to stretch. I just wish I could do the downward facing positions without feeling the sensation of my facial skin sliding forward. I suspect this is one reason why they don’t put mirrors on the floor at the gym. Have you ever bent over and looked at your face in the mirror? Don’t. Seriously. As much as you may be tempted to succumb to the power of suggestion…don’t.

Another thing I have serious reservations about doing is a full body scan to check for any changes in my body. Even despite the family history of skin cancer, I just can’t bring myself to do that. Aside from the aforementioned inability to contort myself sufficiently to do such a thing, I’m too scared to do it. It’s not because I’m afraid of finding any lumps or troublesome moles. I just really can’t take finding yet another hair sprouting from an area where no hair should be sprouting. I’m a little gun-shy after finding an errant strand cascading from that little knobby thing on my ear.

In such a small space I can’t really expand too much on the process of aging. But if I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be, “wait a minute, what did I get up for again?” Seriously though, not everything about aging is necessarily negative. With age comes experience and wisdom. Maybe it’s more rationalizing, but I like to think that 46 years of knowledge coupled with that one strange ear hair gives me kind of a Yoda-like quality. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just remember anything I knew?

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service