Aging is usually associated with loss. You lose your friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues. You lose your sight, hearing, body hair, youthful energy and (worst case scenario) your libido and marbles. If the mind comes first, all other losses and decreases dissipate like fading memories.
Everything seems to dissolve and sometimes disappear, including your mortal envelope. We have an elderly friend who texts one of her elderly friends every morning, who texts back to reassure herself that they are both still on this side of the grass.
Tech wizard that I am, I only recently realized that instead of buying increasingly solid $25 apiece reading glasses to work on my computer, I could just boost the image of the computer. percentage screen I needed to see properly. Obviously, the brain fades in direct relation to sight.
I shouldn’t admit it in public – just in case any Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee reads this – but driving at night is a major challenge for me. Approaching lighthouses glow like phosphorescent underwater sea creatures, and streetlights have hazy auras (both signs of growing cataracts, another troubling symptom of aging). Honestly, I shouldn’t drive after sunset. I sometimes feel like that blind mole driver from one of those 1960s TV cartoons.
My wife, who is a few years on me, has aged beautifully, still looking 10 years younger than her actual age, but she, too, has started to show persistent signs of wear and tear. She always loses things: her phone, her purse, her iPad, her earrings. When I suggested she consider attaching these items to herself via some sort of cable system, she didn’t smile.
Of course, aging is not just about loss. You win a few things too. Let’s hope for some wisdom. Perhaps a sense of peace and security. More likely, varicose veins, age spots, and “barnacles,” as our dermatologist refers to those crusty bumps that seem to appear overnight on your back, arms, and legs. “Even the sleekest yacht collects a few barnacles,” the skin doctor jokes during our annual checkups, just before discovering something more disturbing that requires freezing or cutting it off.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be older. At 10, I dreamed of being James Bond. At 20, I would have been happy to be Jacques Cousteau. Growing up, the average American lived to be 72. None of my parents were over 80, but they suffered from respiratory diseases (smoking) and dementia (severe car accident). So I don’t have a good idea if I’m wired for longevity.
As the old saw said: No one likes to grow old, but it’s better than the alternative. The very first essay I wrote for this newspaper 10 years ago began with, “It’s hard to grow old in Maine. Especially if you don’t have a garage. I stand by these words.
— Special at Telegram
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