'YOU'LL BE GRATEFUL WHEN YOU'RE OLDER.'...
...Mother used to say. She was right. I am. Was.
I turn sixty-five this October, and, while I'm not exactly relishing the prospect, I'm not horrendously bothered. Well, not a lot I can actually do about it, is there?! Unless someone's invented a time machine or something.
You see, I never looked my age. Always looked considerably younger than everyone else but was usually the oldest. Ironic, eh? I think that's the right word. I remember, as a twelve-year-old or so, swimming in the sea with a girl cousin who's a couple of years younger than me. When we started talking to another kid and he/she/can't remember/asked our ages, s/he said, with the blunt perception only a kid would use:
'Gosh - I thought you...' (looking at my cousin) were MUCH older than you!' (looking at me). Poor cuz.
Some time later I reached the age I could officially go into pubs provided I was accompanied by an adult. Mum and Dad took me into one. The unfriendly barman took one glance at me and ordered us off the premises. Dad was a police officer and very much a keeper of the peace. We left, but not before a friend of the barman caught up with us and apologised on his behalf. I didn't look old enough to be in a bar. Back then the law was pretty strict about kids and pubs.
Growing up, I mumbled a lot to mother about the fact that I still looked like a kid. That's when she said:
'You'll be grateful when you're older.'
Pah! Never mind then. What about now?
I married a guy who's a year and a bit younger than me - typical! - and he looks like a kid too. Even now. He takes after his maternal grandfather who had a headful of almost black hair well into his fifties. Husband has a fringed headful of dark brown hair at the tender age of sixty-three which is the envy of all our balding, going grey pals. That's just the women. I'm blonde, so any sign of grey ain't that noticeable, but my age has become most noticeable in the last few years. I've got wrinkles. Boo. I'm not used to wrinkles. Used to say that I wasn't bothered, but I am, dammit. I look at photos from just a few years ago and I really resent that smooth-faced woman.
But, most noticeable and annoyingly of all, just as I've got really interested in doing them, is the fact that my selfies look tragic at certain angles. Particularly close ones, as is the nature of selfies.
'Delete! Delete! That is not going on Facebook!'
When mumbling to Husband/son/daughter about all this, they reposte with:
'Get over it. You're lucky to have got this far without looking like an adult.'
Last but by no means least, I'm really hot under me collar about ageism. His and mine mindset are nothing like the members of U3A (University of the Third Age), although I will hastily retract and say that not all U3A groups are like that. We did join for a year or two, but, frankly, they all seem so old. There have been one or two members who don't fit that bracket - female scientific acquaintances - but the vast majority look and act old. Mention Facebook and their riposte is:
'Oh, I don't have time for that sort of nonsense.' (When I asked someone if they had an account so that I could contact her. I knew she didn't but I was curious). 'Whatever happened to wonderful letter writing. Young people are too lazy for that.' Terrible young folk, eh?! 'If it was good enough for me, it's good enough for them.' Is another statement. Talking about going to the library instead of Googling something. Oh - young persons! Shame on them! I'd Google everything given half the chance. Himself taught me everything I still don't know about technology.
And it seems an unwritten law that the moment you hit seventy, you start wearing beige, and grey, and stone coloured, shapeless clothes from charity shops to match your beige, grey, stone coloured, or - if you're lucky - white hair and blend beautifully into the background and don't do anything to incriminate yourself.
I met a delightful lady at sculpture class this year. She was approaching a hundred years old - yes - really. She was busily sculpting a clay bust of one of her great-granddaughters. When asked about keeping up with birthdays and Christmas, she said:
'Oh, I e-card them all. Such a blessing.'
Today, I'm more aware of the passing of time. I could be bitter about depression and anxiety having robbed me of some of that thirty years of potential enjoyment, but the grown-up part of me says:
'Don't be a pillock. That time's gone. Can't get it back. Enjoy what you have now.'
The teenage part scowls: 'Whatever.' but knows that that's what I have to do. Resents what's gone a bit, but what's a girl to do, eh?
So, I'm having a birthday party this year. First time since, well, forever. Missed all my milestone birthdays cuz I hated the idea of any kind of social get-together. I used to look back and envy our friends, family and acquaintances who celebrated with panache or otherwise. This year, I said, I'm celebrating five years since I had my medication crisis and began my journey to complete wellness, and I'll be sixty-five.
I'm going for it, dammit.