Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How old are you now?

One day I see a rack of birthday cards for 100-year-olds. The next day I’m at a one-year-old’s birthday party. Talk about polar opposites.

I didn’t used to think about age much. But when a great grandniece entered our family last November, pictures were shared each month to mark her growth from tiny baby to little girl.

My mother never celebrated her age, preferring to keep it secret. When she found herself in the hospital one night, the nurse asked for her birthday. “July 3,” my mother said. “What year?,” the nurse pressed. To which my mother replied: “Every year.”

I get her point. Too many people associate numerical age with preconceptions. Years ago, I saw an ophthalmologist who, after asking my age, immediately recommended bifocals. He hadn’t even examined my eyes. He is now my ex-ophthalmologist.

When I had Maddie, my spotty dog, people would always ask her age. Whatever I answered, the number would elicit a shake of the head as if age told all. After Maddie hit double-digits, she would turn her back when passersby asked her age. Neither of us wanted to hear the stories that were sure to come about their old pets and when they passed.

I’ll admit I’m getting a little touchy about my age. It’s not that I mind the years; I just mind the influx of junk mail trying to lure me into “lifestyle” communities for independent living. Or mailings about prescription drugs I surely should be taking. Or special offers for medical equipment. 

How fair is that when my deceased mother-in-law is still getting catalogs for river cruises?

They say age is only a number, but it’s a number too many people use as proxy for an individual. I may be showing my age, but the reality is I’m as young as I’ll ever be.

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