Sunday, April 24, 2011

There, I've said it .....

I'm back - not sure why I've been "away" or sure why it's important to be back.

I do know that it has nott been easy turning 70.  There, I've said it.  Don't know yet if I'll hit the "submit" button which would make it public knowledge, but at least I've gone so far as to put it into writing.  It's enough, maybe, that I see it.

What I don't understand is that I know why 70 terrifies me, but I don't for the life of me know why I am ashamed to say it.  Why I will go to any lengths to hide my age, and why I get personally insulted and even outraged at the bad manners of anyone who brings it up.

When someone tells me they think I'm 50 or 60, or whatever age I'm not, I find no joy or pride in that.  One is what one is.  I've never understood plastic surgery.  If someone is 70, they can spend unearthly amounts of money to end up looking 40 .... are they then 40?  No, they remain 70.  So, what's the point.

Is the person themselves being fooled?  I don't see how, but perhaps.

Is the grim reaper being fooled?  I think not.

When time runs out, it runs out, regardless of how old friends or strangers might think someone is.  It runs out no matter how much it can be proved one doesn't look or act the age the grim reaper knows them to be.

My fear comes from the most certain knowledge that I have just entered the decade which will see my end.

I've already passed the age where most of my family met with death.  And the most long-lived of anyone was 77.  And she, my mother, lived a much healthier life than I.

For someone who was certain she'd never see 40, and was amazed to enter into her 50s, shocked to realize one day she has actually turned 60, it isn't any stretch to know that things are working on coming to a close at 70.

And that, to put it mildly, freaks me out.  It's not death itself that I am scared of.  It's the fact of not being.  Simply ceasing to exist.  No longer knowing things around me.  To be moved by the sight of a whale, the flight of a bluebird, the serenity of waving sunflowers.  To put down a great book with a satisfied thump on the table.  To not know who got voted off of Survivor, who won Dancing With The Stars, to learn if anyone ever outdid Ken Jennings on Jeopardy.  I wan t to know that I'll be around when the METS finally have another winning season - and that could take most of a decade.  Will Carly Simon ever disclose who "You're So Vain" was written about.  How will history treat Obama?  Do I have enough time to lose the 100 pounds and enjoy the loss, or will it just benefit possible pall bearers?

Who will keep the memories of things that I alone hold?  My beloved grandmother, my long-gone brother, my father?  Who will remember the days in NYC, Los Angeles, Lakeville and Germany?  Who will know the peace I found in Paris?  My mother will be rememberd by some for several decads to come, but not the mother I knew.  She, too, will cease to exist when I do. 

Words of comfort say that so long as we are remembered, we do not die.  If, true, then when I go, I take many with me - those who have no memory keepers but me.

I know there are those who will mourn my passing and remember me as they go forward.  Not a large group, but decent-sized and each one treasured.  But I don't want to be just a memory.  I want to continue to feel hugs and kisses.  To hear words of love and kindness.  To offer the same.

I do not want to simply cease to exist.  It's as simple as that. 

But none of that explains my shame in revealing the fact that, yes, I am 70.  Have been for two days now.
Does the fear somehow bring one to shame?  I don't know - going to have to ponder that.  And I can only hope it takes me a long, long time to think about it.


  1. ;-)
    so glad you are back. And, in my mind, ageless. Do you not think written prose, thoughts in words, are gifts to last long after you are gone? The arts are tools that can mark your existence, pass on a treasure, and reflect your soul for the long haul.

  2. (And, as I warn my students,what you write in the internet ether can never be erased.)
    It is a poignant thought that others also "go" when we, their memory keepers, die. Are they born, then, when we create embellished memories of them? I know I am guilty of changing histories in my mind and retelling my edited versions to the next generation.
    I think it is via our small cultural memes that we live eternally. Timama used to say, "ack! evil child!" to me as a term of endearment. I now say it this way to beloved students, and they will probably do the same to littler ones too.

  3. Thanks for your comment, evil child (and thanks for popping into my blog). It's lovely to know you're out there.

    Cultural memories, indeed. I have never and will never see a Chinese Checkers board without being instantly transported back in time to when the battles were being waged. Three colors!! Do you think anyone's up for that these days? I doubt it. And, Big Bad LeRoy Brown - brought to his knees by a beautiful sprite on a summer's green lawn.