This morning when I was swinging a bag of trash into the garbage can, two of the landscape guys drove by in their truck. They waved at me enthusiastically and I waved back. I think of them like nephews and give them cookies quite often. When I look at them I see two Hawaiian guys in their thirties—hard workers, strong and conscientious.
As I walked back into the house, I started wondering what they saw when they looked at me. I’m not sure why I went off on this tangent, but once the thought entered my head, I couldn’t let it go. How did they see me? Did they see me, the person I am? Or did they just see an old woman? Which led to the age-old question: who the heck am I, anyway?
I must admit I’d fallen into the trap of believing everything on my driver’s license was true except the birthdate—which is the exact reverse of reality. First of all, the picture hasn’t been changed for at least ten years—no way I look like I’m in my fifties. Then, my height is off—it’s less than the 5’6” recorded. Meanwhile, my weight is more—the weight posted is what I weighed after losing 15 pounds when I had malaria.
I realized that there was a height issue when I began showing up as the shortest person in all the photos except for my two granddaughters. (Quinn, 12, is gaining on me fast but since Joeli is three, I think I have a little time there.) I guess I’d deluded myself that yoga and Pilates were keeping the space between my vertebra open, but I was beginning to wonder what was up. I mentioned it to my son who put me straight fast: “Mom, quit kidding yourself,” he said. “There’s no way you’re 5’6” anymore.”
Okay then—so could there be other things I’ve been kidding myself about? Although I feel like I’m 48, I’d already figured out that was impossible as that same son just turned 45. But on the days my knee or back or shoulder or ankle doesn’t hurt, I feel just the same as I did in the twentieth century. Maybe even better.
I am not the same, I know. I look at life differently in the autumn of my years. While it is still my Indian Summer, I believe one of my major jobs in life is to enjoy each day—enjoy it the way I want to enjoy it instead of doing a million things or doing what someone else enjoys. In middle age, I was a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I thrived on it or so I thought. Because in reality, I was always exhausted and at the end of my rope.
It really is much better now. I do less and enjoy it more. This aging phenomena has its rewards!