Today’s post was inspired by the Daily Post’s writing challenge: Golden Years. This week’s challenge was to come up with a response to “What does age mean to you?”
I have to admit that, until recently, I didn’t think about aging at all. I joked about it, but it didn’t really bother me – probably because I’ve never looked (or acted) my age. When I was younger, I looked older than I was. I never needed a fake ID, because I never got carded. Then I turned 22. Once I was old enough to drink, they never stopped asking for a photo id. My favorite “Older than she looks” story happened when my husband and I went to brunch for my 48th birthday. The waitress took a look at my driver’s licensed and gasped “OH MY GOD!” I’d like to believe that her response was because I looked 29, and not that she was afraid I’d drink too many mimosas and fall and break my hip.
Motherhood changed things. When I look in the mirror, I look the same (one of the benefits of having poor eyesight). I don’t seem to be aging, but my daughter is. She will be fourteen this month. I’m not quite sure how it happened. It feels like I had her two years ago. My theory is that Mom years are inverse dog years (two mom years = fourteen RT years), but my grant hasn’t come through, so I haven’t been able to fund the testing to prove it.
The fact that my baby has become a teenager overnight is not the only reason that I have become acutely aware of my age. I have reached an age where my occasional church visits are more likely to be related to funeral services than weddings. There’s nothing like a funeral to make you face your own mortality. I look at my life, and think “How can I be halfway through my life when I’ve only just begun?”
“Not halfway through.” A voice whispers to me.
I smile in relief.
“Not halfway through,” the EIC sneers “your mother was only fifty-seven when she died.”
When my mother died, fifty-seven seemed old. She’d had a good life – with kids grown and married and thirty-three years with a husband who was ready to retire. Nineteen years later, with fifty-seven just a handful of years away, it feels much too young to go.
Intellectually I understand that we are two different people with different health histories, that her passing has nothing to do with the length of my life, and yet I’ve come to dread each birthday since hitting the big 5-0. I feel myself counting down to fifty-seven, trying to prepare my daughter to become a strong, independent, fearless woman. Trying to prepare her to ride the rollercoaster of life with hands in the air and a laugh that can be heard in the next room, just like my mom taught me.