I operate on the belief that more birthdays are always better than less. Most of my aches and pains can be handled with basic yoga and a dash of acetaminophen. They would mostly cease if I would take better care of my diet. I don’t think I will though.
Meanwhile, I’m middle-aged if I live to 108. This is not out of the realm of possibility. I have ancestors who lived to ripe old ages despite their best efforts. They were forever nattering about with horses and other wild animals, refusing prompt medical care, and eating their body weight in eggs and steak on the daily.
Then, you add in the cigarette smoking that was almost required in the mid-20th century, and making it to near or over nine decades is no small feat. I am impressed.
Meanwhile, I barely drink, never smoke, and if I so much as glance longingly at a cookie, my blood sugar spikes. I must have gotten a defective gene.
I guess I’m 54 years old. I honestly have to stop and do the math. Mr. Wonderful is about 18 months older than I am. It’s not enough to be scandalous. It is enough to make me consistently think I am older than I actually am because I assume I am his age.
I was born in 1968. It was a big year in history. We had the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and a little something called the Tet Offensive. I arrived late in the year so none of that is on me.
I don’t hide my age or pretend to be “29 again” because I consider age a blessing that too many are denied. I have peers forever frozen at 16 or 25 — the ages when they died tragically young. When I think of all the years they were denied, I imagine they would have loved to worry about fine lines and wrinkles.
I also have a 25-year-old child and don’t want to be gossiped about as if I had him when I was four years old.
I think another reason I don’t freak out about age is that I was born old. I have heard the saying “old soul.” I am certain that is me.
I spent a lot of time with my great-grandmother from birth to age 18. My great-grandmother was born in 1902. When she was born, trains had just outpaced horses as a mode of transportation, the “Teddy Bear” coined after Teddy Roosevelt came to be, and JCPenney opened.
She also hailed from the time of white gloves on ladies, proper etiquette. Her influence is what I attribute to the fact that I feel like I’m 120 years old. This is not a complaint, it just has to do with my upbringing.
I was very informed on the norms and expectations of the early to mid-20th century. There was no slouching at her dining table. A lovely thank you note — handwritten of course — is always in order.
I also can easily lapse into the language of old. My conversations are sprinkled with words that were current to her: chifforobe — no, it’s not an armoire and davenport — no, it’s not exactly a sofa; I will still giggle at the hilarity (and scandal) of the lyrics of Bicycle Built for Two. Such a cad! I say “oopsie daisy” and “good gravy.”
My inner octogenarian really shines on holidays. I know the proper order of place settings — yes, even the teeny fork! I am adamant about table linens and serving dishes. I know that pie tastes better from the best vintage pie plate. We used proper silverware in the proper order, and never did you ever rest your elbows on the table.
Overall, I cannot complain. I have a wonderful family and friends. I managed to get GirlWonder to host my birthday dinner, BoyWonder and his fiance to join us. Dear friends hosted me for a ladies movie night, and my cousins treated me to dinner out. What I am saying is that I managed to turn my birthday into a birthWEEK celebration. It was glorious, honestly. I feel the love.
As I’ve grown I think feeling like a lot of different ages on any given day works for me. I have an inner child, an eye-rolling teen, a semi-mature adult, and the aforementioned elderly lady all vying for space in my brain. Good gravy!
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