I remember taking my great-aunt Gussie to Liberty to buy lipstick. Our family was ensconced at our summer digs in Parksville NY and I was the proud owner of an old Buick and a new driver’s license. I was happy to take anyone anywhere. So, when my very old aunt asked if I would drive her to our neighboring town, five miles away,and huge compared to the hamlet of Parksville, I jumped into the car with Gussie trailing behind me. Well, the purchase seemed to last forever! Gussie explained why: I want the lipstick to be just right. When I look into the mirror, I see a 20 year old,young woman. I don’t see the wrinkles and the gray hair.
Fast forward. I’m now Gussie. I guess, considering the options, that I like being old but I’d rather be young. Young is better than old. Don’t argue. Just believe me.
Of course, there are some benefits to being old. I love my family in a major way! I wouldn’t want to be young without this husband and these kids and these grandkids and the new great-grandson. No. I just wouldn’t mind being the youngest great-grandmother you ever saw. I’m not.
I see the proof all the time. Just not in the mirror. In the mirror I haven’t changed a bit since I was a teenager. It’s amazing. I’m a female Dorian Gray. I don’t see what absolutely everyone else does.
Of course, photos are another story. Damn it. They tell the truth! And the truth hurts.
And so, when I enter a mall in Israel, the security person just waves me on with a shrug. Doesn’t check my purse whatsoever. As if to say, you’re old so you couldn’t be a terrorist. I threaten to write a novel about an 80-year-old terrorist. Not that I like terrorists! Of course not! It’s just the insult. He assumes that because I’m old I’m not dangerous.
I do like, of course, getting seats on public transport. I haven’t stood on a train or bus in years. Some benevolent human sees me, a haggard ancient one, and jumps to give up his or her seat. But recently a wrinkled little woman with a dowager’s hump and cane (I’m not kidding!) got up to give me her seat. That was intolerable. She looked like she was at least 100. I took the seat. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
We were in Australia a few months ago. Those Aussies know how to treat their aged and infirm. My husband had strained his back and was getting around with the help of a walker. As he zipped through the sites of Sidney things happened. For example, we went to a performance at the iconic Sidney Opera House (it was brilliant!) and that walker opened things up for us like I’ve never seen elsewhere. The Uber had a special handicapped pickup and dropoff place, deep in the bowels of the building. And as soon as we got out of the car someone was waiting to escort us to the performance, and to retrieve us once it had ended.
Our visit to a theater turned out to be similarly serendipitous. We had bought tickets that turned out to be in the second balcony. When we walkered. in, the ushers immediately suggested we be upgraded to Orchestra to avoid the stairs up to our seats. No charge. Good deal!
And then, on another trip this year, to the nation of Georgia, I was rescued by an Egyptian policeman. We took a beautiful boat ride about an hour outside of Tbilisi. Our little boat consisted of five passengers, my sister and my husband and yours truly, and two policemen from Alexandria. We chatted away like the neighbors we were and all was well until we reached the end and had to climb out of the seriously rocking vehicle. My sister, husband and the two gendarmes leaped out. I was moored. I couldn’t get out by myself if my life depended on it. So thanks to Mohammed, policeman number !, I am here to tell the tale. I don’t know exactly what he did but somehow he got me out without overturning the boat. He saw an old lady in distress and he rose to the occasion. Shukraan my friend.
Lest you think that my old age doesn’t impede all this travel, I’m here to tell you that I won’t stop traveling until I have to, but the feet give way much faster now than they used to. Much. Enduring the pain is just the price to pay.
So as we enter 2018 (can it be?) I’m here… And with all the kvetching and complaining, there’s no place I’d rather be. In this crazy world, with our corrupt politicians doing evil things, in both of our countries, there’s still no place I’d rather be.
Let’s hope that 2018 will be a good year for us, for America and for Israel. No. A great year! Happy new year!