My son and ex-husband are tall men. They are 6’4” and 6’3” respectively. Or at least they used to be. At a recent family gathering we stood them back to back only to find a large difference! Three or four inches! While it is true that my son is an amazing person in many ways, I don’t think it’s the case that he is growing taller at age 45. Super sleuth that I am, I’m thinking my 71-year-old ex has shrunken. Frankly, this is shocking! As is the fact that I have such an old ex-husband! As is the fact that I will have a 70th birthday myself in a few weeks! Taken all together, it seems like a good time to see how things measure up for me at this milestone.
- Taking this literally –
I sucked in my gut, threw back my shoulders, and pretended to have a string attached to the top of my head pulling me taller and taller as I allowed the nurse to measure me at my physician’s office. All this effort proved that I am not measuring up; I am measuring down instead – a full inch and a half shorter than in my prime.
Here’s a troubling thought, though. Since my weight hasn’t likewise decreased, proportionately speaking, I’m not as thin as I was. This seriously messes with my self-image! (But thankfully, not so much with my BMI. Whew!)
- Manual dexterity –
I congratulate my four-year-old grandson on his increasing manual dexterity – he can cut with scissors! As I do this, I notice changes in my ability as well. Pickle jar lids, the foil liner in my coffee creamer, a strand of hair on the floor: They all challenge me.
I remember a funny story about my dad in his 80’s. He took a jar of pickles back to the customer service desk at the grocery store to complain that he couldn’t open it. I still laugh about it now, but I do so ruefully.
- Regarding wrinkles –
Another capability I’ve lost has to do with wrinkles. I used to be able to relax my face so that the lines in my forehead went away. That’s not in my skillset anymore.
- On the topic of vision –
I am grateful that I can still see at a distance and thank God for reading glasses that help me see up close, but when I take my glasses off to wash my hair, how am I supposed to tell which bottle is the shampoo and which is the conditioner? Someone should tell hair care companies that I currently choose products based on the size of the font.
- I have another eye problem –
I spent a lot of time wondering why the eyeliner I used for years was suddenly smudging daily only to figure out that my eyelids droop, effectively blotting it off.
More rueful laughter is mine as I recall Meryl Streep in the movie, It’s Complicated. It sure used to be hilarious the way she manually held her eyelid up and explored cosmetic surgery, but not so much now.
- I also worry about field sobriety tests –
HealthinAging.org tells me that 25% of older adults – and 40% of those older than 75 – have balance problems, and I admit I am among them. My friend, Robin, tells me to practice my balance by standing on one foot while I brush my teeth. Some days, this is not a pretty sight causing me to wonder how I would fare if I ever had to do a field sobriety test.
- On the topic of speed, but not vehicular –
I have been walking an hour a day, five days a week for over 30 years. Way back at the start, I used to walk four miles each day. I’m chagrinned to say that lately I walk a 19-minute mile, which equates to roughly three miles per hour.
Trying to put this in perspective, I think of the friend who described life’s stages as the go-go years, the slow-go years, and the no-go years. While on the one hand I am grateful that I am still able to go…
- I have a two-pronged attitude problem to deal with –
Regarding physical activity: For 13 years, I have worked out with a personal trainer. Then there are those 30 years of taking walks plus the little workout I do before going on one. Daily I ask myself how long can I endure? Certainly, I won’t be doing this when I’m 90. But how about 80? Or the soon-to-be-70?
Regarding my physical appearance: Back when I was 50, I told a favorite female doctor I thought it was time to give up waistbands in favor of muumuus. She assured me it was not. She said the same thing when I was 55, 60, and 65, promising she would let me know when it was time. What happened next is that she retired without giving further instruction. Now what?
- Is it time to give up?
Clearly, it would be so easy to give up – exercise and waistbands – and to admit defeat in the face of all these changes. But I don’t plan on it. Why? Because borrowing from comedian Steven Wright, I don’t want to be young when I die of old age. Thus, I will keep on keeping on for now, and revisit these topics in a year or 10 or 20. God willing…
Here is the Steven Wright quote as seen on BrainyQuote.com: “How young can you die of old age?”
And here are fun photos:
Paragraph one mentions measuring my son and ex-husband. Here is a photo of it now. I am also sharing a bonus photo, me with my son! Hard to believe he was 21 inches at birth!