A friend once told me I’d live until the ripe old age of eighty-six. When you hear this in your mid-twenties, it’s almost impossible to imagine ever growing that old. Old, was your grandparents. It seems like there’s plenty of time to do everything you want to do in your life. I’ve used that prediction as a gauge, a tool to measure the risks, and sometimes I was fearless. And whenever asked, I say, “I’ve done everything I wanted to.” I’ve even thought about having that put on my gravestone.
I’ve survived two husbands, and I’m still working on my third. When you remarry after sixty, you look at relationships differently than you did in your youth. You tend to overlook a lot of the things that were so important when you were younger: dashing handsomeness, a muscular physique, hair. Body parts have shifted for us both; I have saggy breasts, and he has little breasts too. We both have gray hair everywhere. His legs his have gotten slimmer over the years; mine have gotten thicker and have orange peeled more. We both have sagging upper arms; his from losing muscle mass, mine from being overweight. We both have crepey skin, but mine bothers me more than his does him.
He’s a terrific guy, and while he’s a little younger than I am, he has different issues than I do. His prostate gives him problems, and yet he has managed to live with the impact that’s made on his life and ours. He’s kept his diabetes under control. Not so surprisingly, I have diabetes, neuropathy in my feet, and in fact have lost part of my smallest right toe. I have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and have had two stents put in my chest.
But other than that, I’m in good shape.
If I take it easy, I can do just about anything I want to.
You know how when people hear your life stories, they sometimes say, “You should write a book.” I suppose that means over the years, some of my stories must have been interesting to others, and lately, I’ve been thinking about writing that book. While I can’t always remember what I had for dinner last night, I can remember things that happened to me over my lifetime…and I’ve also been known to embellish a little here and there, so I’d be able to come up with stories to fill in any gaps.
I’ve just had my eightieth birthday, thank God, for I’m getting close. As much as I swore I hated the idea of a party, my family and friends had one for me anyway…and I ended up having the best time ever. People I hadn’t seen for years surprised me by coming, and of course, talking with them brought back a lot of old memories. Some reminded me of unpleasantness, but I recalled most with fondness.
My husband’s daughter, Sissy, had gone through my drawers of old photos, much to my dismay, for some of them could have been considered damning. She made up some poster boards showing my life at various ages. She meant well, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was a spectator at my own funeral. Plus, I absolutely hated seeing photos of myself in private, much less on public display.
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