Look, I am turning 70 in three days….maybe 2 and 1/2 days….very soon! I thought I should write a little bit about what this FEELS like. I may want to remember when I am lots older, right?
Anywho…..people in my inner circle have started talking to me about this lately. Like, “Can you believe we are THIS old?”. Stuff like that. So, I’ve started thinking about how I feel about turning 70. Weird. All I can think of each time I say it aloud is the line from Paul Simon’s song “Old Friends”: “how terribly strange to be 70”. Now that seemed like REALLY ancient back in the ’60’s when I wasn’t even 20 yet. Perspective. Relativity. It sure feels different now.
I can certainly tell that my body has aged; there are signs on the skin and creaks in the joints. But, as most agree, one doesn’t feel much different on the INside. I think we choose a mental age somewhere around 40, when we have really and truly grown up, and we stay with that age. INside. I think by the time I was in my 40’s I knew what I knew, and accepted my core beliefs as solid. I don’t think much has changed in there since then.
So, this aging thing. I now believe your attitude towards aging has to do with where you are emotionally and spiritually at any given point. Four years ago I was quite unhappy with my circumstances. I was not well, had a very sick Mom in a long-term care facility, and no committed partner in my life. I longed for good health, a resolution to my Mom’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease, and a man who loved and understood me. I knew my Mom was nearing the end of her fight, and each day was depressing having to face that fact. My own disease journey was painful, and I became increasingly incapacitated as time went by. I had always wanted a deeply committed, fulfilling, and honest relationship, and the odds of finding that seemed slim. That year, facing 66 years old was difficult.
But, things CAN turn around. Change is the evolutionary constant; and CHANGE came my way big time. Long story shortened, Mom passed. The combination of Grief and Relief took a while to absorb. I spent a year and a half trying to find out what was wrong with me before I got the right diagnosis and medication. I got better. And then I got the courage to do something that changed everything for me.
The very short version is this: I put a message in a bottle, figuratively. I mailed a letter to someone I hadn’t seen in 50 years, and asked him what his life had been like. I told him that I had never forgotten our one, brief date in college; that I had always wondered what became of him. Weeks later, he called. We began a five month phone conversation that concluded with a SECOND date, 5o years after the first one. What are the odds, you ask? Astronomical. But it happened. And then we fell in love for good.
So, as I approach my 70th birthday, my attitude toward aging is colored by my incredible good fortune. I feel luckier than I ever dreamed possible. I thank God every single day for all of this. Today I am healthy, my family is healthy, my furry child Teddy (aka THE BEST DOG IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD) is always near me, and I have my Soul Mate at my side. Sure there are aches and pains, age spots, wrinkles, gurgles, creaks, and word retrieval issues. But ya know what? Life is Beautiful.