Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tell Me the Truth

Photo by Bernard Mendoza

So how come there's no maturation program when you're turning 60?

Remember the one in 5th grade? My mom came to school and we all got little "gifts" of feminine products, after we squirmed through the drawings and technical descriptions of what was happening to us. Later, I secretly read my booklet to the point of memorization.

circa 1959

Now I was ten. I was reassured to find that the strange changes in my body were perfectly normal. I wasn't the only one wondering about my development. My mom had poured over Dr. Spock from the day I was born to determine when I'd need solids, roll over and cut a tooth.

Baby and Child Care

"An authoritative, illustrated, common sense guide . . . from birth to adolescence."

What to Expect

It's comforting to know what to expect. This book calls itself "the pregnancy guide that reassuringly answers the concerns of mothers-and fathers-to-be, from the planning stage through postpartum." Dee and I went to the hospital for birthing classes when we were new to this stage of life. They walked us through the labor room, the delivery room, taught Dee how to put on his little green outfit, and even showed us a movie so we'd be prepared for the big event. Knowing what's coming takes some of the fear out of it.

I've relied on books for training in what's up next. So I googled Middle Age.

Middle Aged Women

These are what came up!

It's really old-fashioned to get old, I've discovered. With all the treatments, nips, tucks, waxes and enhancements women can get, it's hard to tell if what's happening to me is normal. Do other women get whiskers? What about skin tags and red spots? When changes happened before in my life they were exciting, or at least interesting. Now I get the impression I should be embarrassed or ashamed.

The introduction of this book says, "Aging sucks. As my generation of women hits forty, fifty, sixty, we are discovering icky things such as age spots, crow's feet, gray hair, chin hair, saggy boobs, spider veins—need I go on? The question is, What are we going to do about it? We're going to fight it! We are going to fight aging." This sounds like if we start looking older, we must be doing something wrong. That's not true!

Magazines and commercials give the impression that if we eat salmon and do yoga we can avoid the health problems that come with age. That is guilt producing and naive. And it's not true. It's wise to eat, sleep, exercise and see the doctor regularly, but I think it's important to remember that mammograms and pap smears don't prevent cancer; they detect it. People don't get old because they're irresponsible, or because they let themselves go. Aging is inevitable. We either die young or we get old.

My mom was in great shape, healthy, fit and trim, but she died at 72. She was way too young. On the other hand, my grandma ate well and was fit and trim, too, but she had cancer, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma and a stroke before she died at 93. She felt way too old. Bad things happen to good people. Our bodies get older whether we want them to or not. All those folks we label as elderly were once our age, and they didn't plan to get old, either.

I'd like these ladies to invite me to lunch and tell it like it is.
I'd ask:
  1. Is it normal to need a full day to recover after a few hours with the grandkids?
  2. Has your voice gotten lower?
  3. Do your hands throb whenever it's going to rain (or after it rains, or several weeks before it might rain?)
  4. Are you always too hot?
  5. Do your knees still work properly?
Now that I'm turning 60, I just want to know what to expect.
I'm old enough. I can handle the truth.

"When you're through changing, you're through."
No matter your age, what changes are surprising to you?
(Tell the truth.)


gab said...

Maybe YOU need to write the book! Aging: The Truth by Oma

Bev said...

some one needs to write something sensible for those of us who actually want to grow older gracefully ---- as my mother says, "it sure beats the alternative!"

It's sad too that our culture seems to value us less as we are older (and actually know more!), unlike say, the Japanese, who have a bit more respect their elders --- suppose it's too late for me to learn Japanese?

Polly said...

Remember in "a few good men" when Jack Nicholson says" You can't handle the truth! Do you think that's what those ladies are saying smugly to each other?

mama jo said...

as i 'aged' just last week...i am bothered that my body doesn't know how old i am...i have hot flashes and pimples at the same time..i wish i'd out grow one problem before getting the next!

mama jo said...

forgot to say...those books look very familiar

Sheri said...

Oh, the skin tags, chin whiskers and creaking knees! But, you know, you and Sherie look great in that first picture! What are you worried about.

What I want to know is why most little old ladies wear sweaters in the middle of summer when its 95 degrees!! I can't wear a sweater in the middle of winter when its 20. When do I get to be cold?

I love the "Middle Ages" books you found. :8-)

Remember how OLD Mrs. Beecher seemed while we were at Wm Penn? She was probably 50.

Christie said...

I don't want to get old. I don't want skin tags and whiskers. Please find out how to get rid of them, write the how-to book, and I will buy it.

Kay Dennison said...

I'm glad to be old and I'm not doing a damn thing to avoid it. I figure God knows what He's doing and who am I to question His wisdom.

The bottom line was stated succinctly by Bette Davis: "Getting old ain't for sissies."

Sheri said...

P.S. Marty, Don't take Dr. Oz's online virtual age calculation test! My actual age is 59.6, but my virtual age is 68.6. AUGH! You think you feel old.

diane said...

Do you read More magazine? I love it. I may be 47, but my body thinks it is 80. When I was 21 I was diagnosed with a condition that causes your body to rapidly age. I have osteoporosis, I've had my knee rebuilt, I am post menopausal and I faint if I stand up too quickly. I have a wheelchair, walker and a cane. We put an elevator in our home because I can no longer use stairs. Aging stinks. I have been thinking about letting my hair go natural gray ala Jaime Lee Curtis. Either that or platinum blonde so I can't see the gray so quickly. I go back and forth about fighting aging or just allowing it to happen gracefully. Whatever that means.

Beck said...

I'm only in my early thirties and I feel like my body has just done an entire 180 and rebelled against me. So of course, I think I'm way too young to be feeling like this and stubbornly try to get back my svelte teenage self while my body screams in protest--

I heard a quote once: "Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, nevermind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until it fades."

Truer words...