Once Again, I Want to Discuss Getting Old

Can you blame me? It’s such a big part of my life. Maybe yours too. It’s like a supersonic jet (and we all know what happened to them!). Very very fast this life of ours.

Some people are very secretive about their ages. Why, I wonder? I’m 79 and I’m probably the only person I know who doesn’t believe it. Every stranger I cross paths with believes it for sure. When people here in Israel start being overly polite you know you’re ancient. Well, this has been happening to me for quite a while now. They’re helpful in in the supermarkets and move out of my way when I’m walking. I’m always offered seats everywhere, in contrast to the good old days when I’d have to strategize on how to claim one. And just watch me charge through all the security with a friendly wave. I’m, damn it, never considered dangerous or threatening. Just a nice little old lady.

And in America, it’s been a long time since anyone called me, miss, a term which has nothing to do with my marital status. And when I ask for a senior citizen discount no one asks for proof. It is SO OBVIOUS!

I have friends who do anything they can to try and make themselves look younger. Hair color, of course. Facelifts too. That’s surgery, real surgery with anaesthesia, pain and risks, not to mention big bucks,to fool no one but yourself. Not for me sister! My gray hair, jowls and double chins, plus, of course, my cellulite and ever deepening wrinkles, are sticking with me until the end. Which is coming sooner than I’d like it to!

I’ve already donated some body parts to oncologists and endured painful rehab for breaking others. I try to stay away from doctors as much as possible because I’m one who reads the stats that when there’s a medical conference the death rate goes down. So, I’m all for endless medical conferences.

My genes are a very mixed bag in terms of longevity. My parents did okay with my mother living to 85 and my father to 97. Most importantly they both pretty much had their wits about them until the very end. But numerous other relatives had early departures, and haven’t been heard from since. None of them were unlucky enough to die by someone else’s hand. In my family it was Mother Nature all the way.

And wow, am I ever big on forgetting things. Names especially. But I do remember the lyrics to songs from the 50’s. Strange organs these brains. Why do I forget the name of someone who always sits next to me in shul but remember the words to those Johny Mathis songs? Looking old is negligible compared to thinking old.

Then there are the various fears. Since I fell and broke my shoulder aa few years back, fear of falling is high on my list. My mother definitely suffered from that pervasive malady. I remember once visiting my parents in their Herzliya walkup and seeing a drop of blood on each step. I convinced myself that it was some hapless patient of the dentist who shared their floor until I got to the top and saw that the blood went towards my parents apartment, away from the dental office.. Mirage busted! Nothing serious; a regular event in my mother’s later years.

In addition to severe loss of immortality, old age brings other woes. Buying shoes that fit comfortably is, for me, a veritable nightmare. Hey can’t I go barefoot to that black-tie wedding? And, like my father before me, the volume on my TV is getting louder all the time……….and I still can’t hear it perfectly. My vision is certainly not what it was. The cataracts are growing and will soon need to be removed. Another body part to be messed around with. In this case a matched pair.

And I must confess that opening a jar has become a challenge of unique proportions. Sometimes, when I’m really frustrated, I’m tempted to just throw that jar of tomato sauce and be done with it. Luckily I’m not senile enough to forget the consequences! So I’m buying more stuff in cans than jars and with the help of my electric can opener managing to evict the contents that I need from their bondage into my meatloaf.

What’s the big deal with staying alive that we all strive so hard to do it? For me, I want to see so many things. I want to see if the Arabs and Israelis can ever make peace. I want to see who will be elected US president in 2020. Sure I do. But I also want to dance at smachot in my family (barefoot of course) and rejoice. Even at my advanced age there are still many many things that I look forward to, together with my even more ancient man who’s on the cusp of turning 81!

But without guarantees, neither I nor anyone else on this planet can see ahead. So I’ll go out for lunch now and try to enjoy the time I may have left.

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.
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