Yesterday, I took the FJ to the car wash to have Mark’s “red-neck paint job” (up-north mud!) removed. When I stepped up to the counter to pay, the woman looked at me for a moment and then asked, “Are you 55?”
Several seconds ticked off the clock as I swallowed, took a deep breath and murmured, “No, no I’m not.”
After I paid, I walked over to the large windows to watch my vehicle coming through the wash. From the outside, I may have looked serene, but inside I was screaming. Do I look 55? Seriously – DO I LOOK 55??
Later, as I prepared for bed, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, flossed and applied my age reversing cream which obviously is not working and stared a long time in the mirror. Do I look 55? I wondered again. And what does 55 look like?
I am less than two weeks away from my 50th birthday. I have had a year to get used to the idea of turning a half-century old. I remember quite well the day last spring when Mark and I were hiking up north and I admitted to him that I was going to have a hard time turning 50 and he had a year to prepare for it. I had no trouble at all with 30 or 40, but 50 – well, that’s been hard to get used to. Although, as my dad would say, it’s better than the alternative!
People keep telling me it’s “just a number”, but is it? Personally, I think that’s just something people who don’t like their age any better than I do say to comfort themselves. And then there’s the other old stand-by – you’re only as old as you feel. As if our birth dates don’t really matter at all and we can just determine for ourselves how old we really are. Or how old we’d like to be.
I always looked young for my age, but I guess time and gravity are catching up with me. I guess I’m going to have to get used to being asked if I qualify for the senior citizens’ discount. It’s so weird because inside, in my head and in my heart, I still feel like I did at 30. But the physical reality is that I cannot do the same things I did 20 years ago. Oh, I’m in pretty good shape. I exercize daily and stay very active. I eat pretty healthy, most of the time. I did have to resort to coloring my hair. I just wasn’t ready for all that gray! (Uh-oh, the secret’s out!)
No matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself that my age is “just a number”. It’s more than a number, it’s a constant reminder of how long I’ve been on this earth, and how much time I may have left. Every time I’m writing and I can’t find the word I’m desperately searching for in my brain, it’s another reminder that I’m getting old(er). Every time I get up from the chair and I have that stabbing pain in my right hip where I wore out my SI joint five years ago, I’m reminded I’m not getting any younger.
Ah well, such is life. We grow old. Thankfully, I have eternity to look forward to, where there will be no more aging, no more aching joints, no more gray hair. I will remember all the words. But until then, please don’t ask me if I qualify for the senior discount.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12