Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Who's that old lady?
I had one of those mornings recently, waking up and looking in a mirror, seeing my reflection and thinking "When did that happen?" I suppose it's natural when you reach the middle age years to reflect back and remember yourself as a younger person. Maybe it's been on my mind a bit more since my next birthday will grant me double-nickel status later this year.
I have developed my maternal grandmother's figure, albeit I'm a few inches taller than she was. My orthopedic says I also have her knees. I know when the seasons are changing because my knees will tell me long before the meteorologists take note of the distinctive shift in weather patterns of the western hemisphere.
Old? Me? No.
Aged? Not until I'm ninety. Seasoned? Certainly.
Last year I abandoned coloring my hair so I can allow the silver threads to become my natural highlights. True, my hair is not the rich brunette that it once was. These days it is more of a medium ash, and trust me, I know those silver threads have hoards of friends just waiting to be invited out to the party. If I look close, those threads are not really silver or gray. They are white, as white as norwegian snow.
Skipping gray and going straight to white? I'm okay with that. After all I have carried the moniker since the day I was born.
I have never feared age. I had some coworkers who asked if I was sad because I was turning forty. I was a single parent at the time, and both kids were finishing high school. That was not something to be sad about. That was an achievement. My kids threw me a party with friends and family. One of my friends showed up in a gorilla suit and provided me with a bag of supplies, which of course included Depends, magnifying glasses, and various vitamins. With forty came wisdom and perspective to view my personal history as learning experiences, for better or for worse.
Fifty rolled around and was christened by a surprise birthday party with friends and family, including live music by Roger Kardinal. I remember thinking "Fifty is not so bad. What's the big deal about retiring at 55?" Three years later, I totally understood. It's not about the age, it's about the freedom of choosing what to do with your day because there will always be grocery money, gas in the car, a roof over your head, heating and cooling when you need it, and being completely alleviated of the responsibility of having to hold down a job.
Retirement is a ways off for me. I haven't defined what that should look like, other than being free of the bonds of having to go to work five days a week. The economy is not encouraging to make an exit from the workforce any time soon. Having both my husband and I experience on-again, off-again employment for the past five years has set the goal line back at least another ten years. Right now I'm just hoping we keep averaging to be employed more often than unemployed.
For now I can live vicariously through a few of my friends who have been blessed with retirement and are creating their new futures. Like Bill, who recently bought a house and moved to Talkeetna, Alaska. After backpacking around Denali and exploring the Kenai penninsula for most of his vacations, he finally pulled the trigger. Life Dream achieved. Well done, Bill. And there are others making plans to make their grand exit by the end of the year, aren't they, Ellen?
I'll get there one of these years. In the meantime, Bill, would you hook up a webcam and point it to the night sky this winter so I can watch the aurora borealis out your window?