No one has the courage to tell you about the perils of growing old. You have to learn about them the hard way, through personal experience, and by then, it’s too late. Growing old is “not a piece of cake.” It lasts for years and some years are filled with losses, more than a body can bear.
First of all, after the age of 60, I started to notice muscles and skin sagging underneath My chin. I knew if I did nothing, the skin flap would increase in size and would wobble to and fro if I walked. The thought sent tremors up and down my spine. An icicle of fear threatened to stab me through the heart. Who wants to look like a turkey gobbler? I don’t know a single friend who would jump at the chance to look like one. Ever since I looked in the mirror, I have been religiously grimacing in bed or in front of the TV. It works wonders in tightening up the neck. I don’t do it in front of other people, if you were wondering.
Secondly, just when my hair was looking perfect, it started turning gray, and single hair strands started falling from my head into the bathroom sink. Without fail, it was a weekly occurrence. Just my luck, I thought, to end up with pink gaps in my hair. I learned to be creative when combing and parting my hair to hide the hairless spots.
Thirdly, my skin became thin and dry. Bumping it, made it bleed. I now carry a first aid kit in my purse. My skin began to itch like crazy. Taking hot showers made it worse. I found drinking water helped and slathering plenty of skin lotion daily keeps the skin moist. Brown spots became more prevalent. Some people use milk or lemon juice to lighten the spots. Mine just kept coming, so I had to accept the fact they would be with me always. I moved on to more interesting things in life.
Fourth, in growing old, I learned to listen to my body. When your body tells you to go, drop everything and run like hell. Don’t hesitate or stop to chat. Treat it like an emergency, because it is. I learned kneeling or bending down for too long can cause my joints to freeze. They also have a tendency to snap, crackle, and pop. Sitting in a chair is quieter. My balance became worse as I grew older. I had a tendency to bump into doorways. My eyesight started to fade and I had cataract surgery. I started to read less.
Fifth, My fine motor skills took a hit as I grew older. I started dropping things I picked up. It took me an hour to thread a needle. Eating became more of a challenge. Putting food in my mouth was tricky. Keeping my clothes clean was an ordeal. I even considered carrying a bib with me, but I had too much pride. Ladies don’t wear bibs in a restaurant, I told myself.
Sixth, I found my energy level decreasing. I would try to read or watch TV and fall asleep. I would go to the store and shop for groceries. If I was tired, I would fall asleep pushing my cart. I slept less at night and ate two meals a day instead of three. My taste buds changed. As a result, I am no longer addicted to chocolate.
Last, my memory suffered as the years passed. Once a whiz at multitasking, I now had trouble talking and driving at the same time. I sometimes misplaced my glasses to find them later sitting on my nose. I have at times questioned whether I had fed the dogs, or misplaced my keys. I have chatted with a friend on the phone and when interrupted, I could not remember what we were talking about. Overtime, I learned to set up strategies to deal with the obstacles I had in aging.
Growing old has benefits. Past memories often come as real as a flashback. The sights and sounds of memories with my son as a child are so vivid. I became introspective and more mindful of my surroundings. I asked questions, valued relationships, and took time to be present. I wanted my life to have meaning. I searched for God daily, took the time to help others, and became increasingly aware of how much I did not know. I cared less about what others opinions were of me, and I listened more to the real me. I am becoming less enslaved by time, and I am slowly accepting the process of growing older.