Many years ago we were taking my grandmother out to her favorite restaurant to celebrate her 80th birthday (although she thought we were going out to celebrate my birthday!). On the way, I remember asking her what it felt like to be 80. Grandma–who was a bit of a spitfire–shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know…what’s it supposed to feel like?!?”
At the time, that response made no sense to me. Of course every memorable age was supposed to have its own unique feeling. After all, I had just turned 21, and so there was a sense of freedom with that age…
However, as the years have passed, her response has come to make much more sense. I’m not as old as she was yet, but I’m definitely a senior citizen. So what does that feel like? I’d have to shrug my shoulders like Gram and echo her response: “I don’t know…what’s it supposed to feel like?”
When I look in the mirror, I see a face with a few more gray hairs, some sags that didn’t used to be there…. My body doesn’t always do what I would like it to–but that’s not particularly because of age. I’ve been dealing with that for 30+ years, ever since I was diagnosed with MS. I have more experience–and there are some things I would do differently, if the opportunity came again.
But inside? I still feel like the young woman who wanted to know what I would feel like in the future. What would it be like to turn 40? 50? 65? 80? 90?
I can tell you the answer to some of those ages–the ones I see now in the rearview window of my mind. It doesn’t feel any different.
- I’m still me. I still have many of the interests I had when I was 20…although many new ones have been added as well.
- I still love life, even if I can’t do everything I used to (and some of those things I don’t miss–like pulling all-nighters to cram for a test or finish writing a paper!).
- I have a lot of friends, some of whom have known me since I was a kid–but some of whom have come to me as the years have passed.
- I have a family I love. Okay, maybe it’s not necessarily the family I daydreamed about–but what family is? We love each other…laugh with each other…cry with each other…disagree with each other…but we’re family.
- I’ve experienced some losses–but I’m still glad to have had the time I had with those individuals. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
- I still have dreams for the future. I don’t know if I’ll get around to fulfilling all of them–but I still have things I want to do.
I’ve known a 25-year-old who was an old lady…and a 55-year-old who was still young. So what is age anyway?
Age is only a state of mind…and Gram was right. Any age feels just like we want it to.