Thursday, 18 February 2010

Two postings inspired by my dad. Part II- About getting old.

Isn’t it strange what affects you? With me, it often is not the stuff that, theoretically, should affect me. Like the recession or the politicians playing dirty games.

But the little things.

I have been thinking a lot about getting old recently. Maybe, it is because I can sense that scary four zero trying to secretly sneak up on me from behind, whilst I am busy with my daily chores. Maybe, it is because I am now a parent, and that changes one’s perspective on life and mortality. OK, I know 36 is not old. But some days, when I have the time to slow down and focus on my own body, I can hear it complaining.

My back and neck did not get so tired before. My face did not need as much attention- creams and serums, tonics and masks- in order to look semi-decent. I used to get up in the mornings, shower in about 5 minutes, throw some clothes on, often not even bother to brush my long hair- and guys still fancied me. These days, when I notice some strangers glance at me in that way, it almost makes me laugh. I want to ask them: 'What are you looking at? Come on! I am an aging mother, always tired and slightly (?) overweight. When you see me awake that most probably means I either have a backache, am sleepy or my nose is blocked- thanks to yet another cold that my child keeps bringing from school.'

And when I think about getting old, I always think of my father. I was quite a few years younger then. It was in a pre-Skype era. When my father would send me hand-written letters by post. I know, right? And one of those letters affected me so greatly, I sat there for a while staring into nothing; and then I went upstairs and hid it in my folder, where I save things that matter. It was not a sad or a serious letter. Nothing too dramatic at a glance. He was talking about his job at the time, at a construction site he was supervising. He was talking about his team’s daily routine and management issues. And he mentioned that the guys often had a game of basketball at lunch breaks. My father used to be very athletic in his younger days. And basketball was one of his favourite games to play.

'It is funny, he said, how you suddenly notice that you are old now. You get the ball and you aim to throw it. Your brain thinks you can do it. It memorized years of practice, and it knows you can get that ball in the basket from this far. It sends the signal to your arms and you throw the ball, only your body fails you. In your head, he said, you remain young, fit and strong. But in reality, you are no longer the person you used to be. So you feel cheated.'

Whenever I stop and look in the mirror, searching for new fine lines, or other scary signs of aging, I think of how well my father explained it. I imagine how he must have felt when he could not play his favourite game as well as before.

PS You might realize, from Part I, that this is the same father who at the age of 64 gave me a half-sister. Who is a lot younger than my own child. If that sounds complicated to you, it's because it is.
To be honest, I would maybe have preferred him to keep playing basketball.

9 comments:

  1. Ha-ha :) Something must be in the air. I was just telling my husband this morning that I’m feeling old. I was looking at yet another catalog that showed up in the mail and instead of thinking about which dress I’d like to try on, I was thinking where did they find all these cheap looking women? Who are they dressing up for this way? I honestly couldn’t imagine why go to all this trouble to look this “accessible”. I must be old.

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  2. I think your father is a remarkable person:) If only youth knew and if only old age could. Your age is the best, because you are old enough to appreciate your health and energy and you are young enough to still have your health and energy. Enjoy:)

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  3. I totally get what you share here! I've just became 40, and it took me a lot to accept it. Some days before my birthday, I told some older friends about my terror of becoming 40, and they all said at once: "you'll see it´s not that big deal".
    I guess they were right... I hope my body won't start bothering me yet.
    ¡Saludos!

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  4. Interesting blog. But you are still too young and energetic to feel age. I am older than you and don't have pensive thoughts about aging. In fact I am feeling better than ever and because of that am still getting hit on by 25 year olds. I think it really is a state of mind. The combination of energy and experience is potent and age is not perceived the same way it was just a decade ago. I'm about to turn 40 and life hasn't even started yet....

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  5. very nice post. and touching.

    i wouldnt say u r getting old. u r just getting mature and wise.

    maybe i am not old enough to percieve this issue in a more serious way but i guess for most people the process (ageing) is more painful than the result (being old). whatever it is, age really does not matter (as seen from ur dad's example). and i cant wait to get mature and wise like u or ur dad :)

    stay happy.

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  6. OK, all you young people, stop thinking yourselves into oldness and glory in your youth (yes, 40 is very, very young). OK, you can't do the physical things as well as you used to (although the existence of Scary's half-sister proves that 'oldies' are still capable of some types of exercise) but you're in your prime.

    Age is definitely a state of mind and it'll only get you when you let it (or when illness gets you, and there's nothing to be done about that). I don't remember who said it but 'youth is wasted on the young'. A long time ago I encouraged my three kids (who are now older than most of you) to be aware of their physical selves and enjoy them to the full. And they're still doing just that. Life is a gift - enjoy it.

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  7. Is this just me or it is people commenting in a slightly defensive mood?
    Good post.
    Maybe aging is state of mind, but I guess nobody pretends that in your 60 you can act or feel as 18 years old, right? There is limit to this "age is state of mind".
    Recognition of getting older, adjustment to its joys and difficulties is part of successful and wise life. you have a thoughtful dad.

    Tatarin

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  8. @Tatarin: Oh, I dont mind. Defensive, offensive...as long as people comment, I am happy. As long as there is a reaction, it is all good. :)

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  9. I know now - we should enjoy our lives. I remember our conversation with you the night before I was turning 28. I told you, that I am scared, because in 12 years I'll turn 40. You asked why I am not scared that in 2 years I'll turn 30, it is much closer! And I said: because 30 is still young, but 40...
    Now when I am 40+ I am just sorry I didn't enjoy enough my previous years.
    I am thinking about our friend who didn't want to celebrate her 50 years with anybody. I remember her telling me (I was 38): Oh, you have great 12 years ahead of you! She felt that 50 is definitely THAT age when you become old. But I am sure she'll feel different when she turns 60 : ))))

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