“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”
― Andy Rooney
Whoever said they want to grow old gracefully is crazy, or maybe they just gave up. I don’t plan to grow old gracefully, I plan to fight it every step of the way. By fight, I actually mean to ignore, which I generally find to be a fairly effective method of combat for me. Oh, I have a few weapons; I slather on the anti-wrinkle cream, use dollops of makeup and lately I have even resorted to eyelash extensions (!!), but to give up completely? Nope. Not going to do it. My mother claims there will come a day when I will revel in the freedom of pants with elastic waists, “slacks” are what my grandmother used to call them, and that being an old lady has its benefits. I can see that. It would be nice to not have to suck in my stomach all damn day and to get 25 cents taken off the price of my coffee, but I’m not ready to give in just yet.
Last week, I couldn’t remember how old I was, so I actually asked my husband in a panicked voice because it’s really kind of scary and frankly indicative of the number of years under my belt that I honestly couldnt remember if I was 44 or 45. It turns out that I am 45. Actually, I’ll be 46 by the time this is posted. My best friend Melody claims that she went a whole month preparing herself mentally before her 30th birthday. Anyone who knows her, knows what a circus this must have been as she can be a bit melodramatic. Anyway, she lamented and moaned for a month until her mother told her that she was turning 29 that year, not 30, and so she had to go through the whole process again, the following year.
What’s ironic about these two age amnesia stories, is that as we age we are supposed to be getting wiser; yet, when I was seven, I was “seven and a half” all summer, until fall at which point I became “seven and 3/4.” I eagerly awaited my birthday, all year-long. As the youngest of four girls, there really isn’t anything new under the sun when you are growing up. My parents were not all that impressed after all those years of raising my sisters, when I turned a cart-wheel or got an A. But your birthday?!? Now, that’s when you are special. The whole day was about me, even down to the birthday meal, which five other family members must eat because I picked it. I’m pretty sure it was pancakes.
But then…you become a mother. Suddenly, your birthday has nothing to do with you, because your little pumpkin loves parties and cake and blowing out candles. So, you find yourself, after a horrendous day at work, in a long line at the grocery store, a square (why square, anyway?) Pepperidge Farm cake under your arm because you remembered that today is your birthday and cake is expected. Too bad you forgot the candles, so you have to decorate it with votive candles and pray they don’t notice. They do.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m going in the opposite direction at this point. What I used to long for as a kid (a day just about me!!! ), I now actually do not like the idea of at all. You know what happens on your birthday? Everyone calls you (ughh!) and wishes you a happy birthday. Voices I have not heard since last birthday, crackle over the phone and I do the “HIII, So good to hear from youuuu! We really need to get togetherrrr!” thing that is expected. I know how this sounds, I sound like a cranky old bat. Someone nobody would actually want to call. I’m sorry, I really am. I dearly love my friends and family, and if you love me too, please don’t call me on my birthday! Instead, text me randomly throughout the year when you hear a movie quote or song that reminds you of me and I will do the same. Unless for your birthday, you want a call. In which case, your wish is my command. Also, while I’m on the subject, no need to bother with a card. Unless something falls out of it ($$$!!!), I’m not all that interested in it. except my BFF Melody’s cards. She takes a lot of time picking them out and underlines cute things, and I do love and appreciate that. But, my mother gets her cards, like 199 in a box and they have pictures of sailboats, or random closeups of Delphiniums, and no words on them but she puts things in there that fall out when I open it, so that is fine. Also, then I dont feel like a jerk for throwing it in the trash three years later.
So much negativity! I’m really sorry for that and if you gotten this far, you probably know that the best thing about getting older is that you care far less what people think of you than you did when you were young. This has been both a blessing and a curse as sometimes my mouth has gotten me in trouble in recent years. I’m already regretting the “don’t call me” rant above, and I’m considering deleting it. Nah, F*&$ it. Because If there’s another thing I’ve learned along the way, It’s that life is short, and therefore precious, and that there’s a time to be brutally honest (see above) and a time to play along for the enjoyment of others, as I will be doing in a matter of hours at my “surprise birthday party” planned for me by my sweet husband and exuberant granddaughter. Those two have been plotting, scheming, shopping and laughing behind my back for weeks, but the clincher was the text to my phone, meant for our adult daughter that read, and I kid you not, “I’ll have everyone here by 4:30.” I truly am thankful for another year to fight the good fight, and for my family and friends, many of whom I will hug tomorrow at my party, after I let my granddaughter blow out my candles, and tell everyone we need to get together again soon.
Update: No one has called me! I am truly blessed with wonderful, thoughtful, friends and family!