23 August 2010

Forever Young

Why don't you ever hear anybody lamenting the fact that middle age is wasted on the middle-aged?

I just finished reading Best Love, Rosie by Nuala O'Faolain, a wonderful Irish writer with the coolest name I've ever heard. It's about a woman trying to figure out middle age. Being about there myself, it got me thinking.

I remember being startled the first time I heard a woman my age refer to herself as middle-aged. Wait... she's the same age I am. If she's middle-aged, that would mean... Really? Middle-aged? Me? How can this be?

I still feel young, which is clearly at odds with reality, and getting odder all the time. People must think of me as old. I've got gray hair, and creaky joints. I'm quadri-frackin'-plegic, for criminy sake. But I still think of myself as young. When does the inside catch up with the outside? Does it ever?

I don't think I'm particularly phobic about the prospect of getting old. I don't agonize over every line and wrinkle. In fact, I can't remember when I last looked in a mirror. I don't dye my hair. I wish I could do a lot of things that I can no longer do, but that's more an MS thing than a getting old thing.

I remember my grandmother saying, in her Yiddish accent, 'I'm getting younger and younger, every day.' I never really knew what she meant by that.

I still don't.


  1. I remember the first time someone called me ma'am. I looked behind me, no one there. I made like De Niro in Taxi Driver..."You talkin to me?"
    And yes...she was talking to me *sigh*. I don't really mind getting old, beats the alternative doesn't it!

  2. One of my close pals is ten years younger than I. The first time I referred to myself as middle-aged she was horrified and said, "Don't say that about yourself!"

    As someone who didn't have or raise kids, I think it's easier to unintentionally hold on to the illusion of being young. There aren't the milestone of little Janie/Johnnie to remind you.

    My 78 year-old mom is white-haired and weathered from the Colorado sun. She says she still thinks she's a young girl inside and wonders who that person in the mirror is. Denial runs deep.

  3. LOL I so refuse to go down without a fight. That said, time to take my nap - I gave up on beauty sleep years ago.

    I was talking to my mom and referred to a 70ish year old woman as old and my mom says well she is over a decade younger than me so what would you call me? I should have said active or aged well but no - I went for the umm half dead?

    All was good though because my mom truly is young at heart and stays as active as she can. My dad also.

    Ok, it sort of annoys me when I get the senor discount automatically. It slams me with reality when my self image was stuck in my 20's.
    I still have not "grown up". I hope I always allow the child in me to run wild in my mind.