Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted April 17, 2015


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Happy birthday to me

Entering The Youth of My Old Age

by Spiritual Echo


I've been in rather a pensive mood for the last week or two, no doubt brought on by my 65th birthday. The actual day itself was outstanding.

Despite having my shrink's assessment, which I agree with most days, of adjustment disorder (meaning I don't handle change well), periodically, I make a conscious decision that something must change. It's always me.

On the eve of my birthday, I decided a make-over was in order. I demanded, and received, a nine o'clock hair appointment the next morning.

"Okay, Luisa, I'm now officially old," I said. "Make me look the part."

Now, the salon is used to my theatrics, though I prefer the intimacy of these visits to be thought of a research for characters in my stories, but they have never had a client ask for assistance in looking old.

"Cut it off," I declared to my open-mouthed stylist.

"You have plenty of time to look old. I refuse to do what you are asking for. Look at these ears," she said, pulling my hair away to expose 'Dumbo' cartilage growing out of the side of my head. "Do you really want these ears exposed all the time?"

She had a point. Either my head had shrunk or my ears had grown. Either way, it wasn't a pretty sight. An hour later, I emerged with a haircut she referred to as an 'elevated bob'. Not only that, I have bangs again. "To cover your frown lines," Luisa said.

I snorted. I love how so many women have laugh lines and frown lines. I've just got wrinkles, but a few were now hidden behind a fringe.

Getting into the spirit, I requested the aesthetician do a make-up job on my cavernous easel, but alas, she was booked and could not comply. But once I get things in my head, it's just a matter of how I will fulfill my wish, not if I can pull this off.

Option one was to return home and scrounge through my make-up drawer, but as I really haven't bothered much with any cosmetics. I'm fairly certain mine will be dried up or past their best-before date. Not only that, I have issues with my eyesight and have difficulty with eye-liner, something that is definitely on my mind.

Option two was to show up at the local drug store. They have an extensive cosmetic department, always staffed with nubile young women who purport to be experts on anti-aging products. I walked in singing 'Happy Birthday' to me, and announced to the twenty-something darlings behind the counter that I was entering the youth of my old age and needed help spring-boarding into that chasm. Surprisingly, they obliged.

A half-hour later, I walked out looking very spiffy, with new perfume, a gift for myself, and a bag full of freebies--free samples. So far, so good, I thought. An hour later, I was having lunch with two beautiful women, friends that I cherish in spite of their mocking of me--I'm the oldest. I guess I deserve it.

The grandkids sang to me when the babysitter dropped them off for swimming lessons later that afternoon, and my son cooked me a wonderful dinner, completing a perfect day.

It's not the birthday that has me deep in thought, nor the age--Hell, I'm not blind yet--I saw it coming. It's the implications of old age, being rightfully and legally a senior citizen, that makes me ponder. I never thought it would turn out this way. Birthdays are like landmarks along the way, and it's hard not to reflect when momentous dates roll around.

I once went through a series of clinical hypnosis sessions and one in particular remains memorable. The therapist regressed, took me back to childhood and asked me to hug the child--me--and tell her how proud I was of her, and that everything would work out just fine. She continued this exercise, asking me to visit the teenager, the young woman, the bride and then the mother I became, each time repeating the endearment.

I celebrated my birthday plus one, by reassuring myself that I'd done well, and everything would be fine, but I find that it is so much easier to harbour regrets instead of celebrating achievements.

It is not life circumstances that were beyond my control that I bemoan, but rather some decisions I made that can never be reversed. I believe my stumbles and downright screw-ups taught lessons, but tragically, some of those insights can't be used again. It's too late.

Worse, regardless of how I may primp, my advice to my younger family members still comes across as 'here she goes again', muttered under my kid's breath as he thinks I'm too old to understand. The lesson is obvious. I keep my mouth shut.

I have been blessed with several mentors along the way who were highly responsible for the success I achieved in different areas of my life. Even today, whether they know it or not, I have writing mentors whom I cherish immensely, but what I lack and feel completely incompetent to navigate alone, is old age. I need a guide, someone who may also have regrets that came from mistakes he or she made when they were the age that I am now.

Now that I've said it out loud, I've thrown my need out to the universe, and like an intellectual boomerang or answered prayer, I suspect that this request may be granted.

For one thing I hold certain, and have as long as I can remember, I need to set goals and create a road map, not measure the years I have remaining and try to fill the time. Making life count, at any age is not only a noble quest, I'm certain it is the only way I will enjoy the autumn of my years.

Fellow seniors, should you have some sage advice to offer, unlike your kids, I will listen.




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Yes, that's me with my new 'elevated bob' and two of my grandchildren, Alexis and Aiden. Taken on my 65th birthday.
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