On my late father-in-law’s 90th birthday, I asked him what 90 felt like. “It feels like 50,” he said, “except when I get up from a chair.”
Now that I’m in my 60s, I’m beginning to know what he means. Everything hurts. It’s as if I’ve entered a world where there are two choices, aches and pains or death. So I move forward, but the telltale signs that I’m not 40 anymore are evident. It starts with the refrigerator.
The other day my son came over and he opened my freezer to get some ice and I saw him staring.
“Close the door,” I said. “It’s not good to keep the freezer door open.”
“Not good for what?” he asked. “The four ice packs you have in there?”
It was true. I had no food in there, unless you consider vodka and Weight Watchers ice cream cones food. But I did have an impressive variety of frozen compresses that fit whichever body parts needed attention. I had two that wrapped around the shoulder, two that velcroed around the knee, and two odd-shaped ones with individual ice pockets on it that were good for lying on. I used to have one single compress for everything until one day my husband and I needed it at the same moment.
We both walked over to the freezer door and when he opened it I assumed he was being gallant until he absentmindedly pushed in front of me and whipped out the frozen compress.
“Shoulder’s sore,” he said. He wrapped the pack around his shoulder and left the room.
“I was going to use that ice pack,” I said. “I twisted something in my knee.”
“I’ll give it to you in a minute,” he said.
I waited in the kitchen for 20 minutes. Finally, he came back and tossed the ice pack to me which at that point had the consistency of a dead fish. After that, I went out and bought two of every ice pack designed for various body parts. These days it is not unusual to see us sitting in bed looking as if we are readying ourselves to be cryogenically preserved.
That is but one of the telltale signs of being in my 60s. A while back I re-programmed my Sirius-XM radio. I find myself hopping between Sinatra, Broadway show tunes and Easy Listening. When I give my car to a valet parker, I switch to KISS-FM so they don’t think they’re parking the car for some geezer. But probably the three pairs of reading glasses in the cup holders are a dead giveaway.
I can’t remember names or, sometimes, even faces. At an event I was at not long ago, a woman came up to me and gave me hugs and said how great it was to see me and I played that “great to see you too” game while I’m thinking she doesn’t even look vaguely familiar, and then she looked at me and said “You have no idea who I am, do you?” It turned out that we worked together years ago, sat in the same office, and we were even both pregnant during that time. I remembered none of this.
Which brings me to Eileen Fisher. A lot of things bring me to Eileen Fisher. Whether I have a special dinner to go to, or a vacation is on the horizon or I’ve lost five pounds or gained 10, all paths lead to Eileen Fisher. I have shopped at Eileen Fisher stores all around the country, and I have never seen any women in there under 50. If Eileen Fisher is reading this, I want her to know that her clothes are lovely and I am not trying to disparage her brand. I’d walk around naked half the time if it weren’t for her. I’m just saying that, no matter how hard Eileen might protest, a closet filled with Eileen Fisher clothes is one of the telltale signs that you’ve entered post mid-life.
And then there is what many people think has been the final straw. The thing that even I never believed myself capable of, the thing that I have always thought is what you do just before you put one foot in the grave … no, to be accurate, what I always thought was the definition of putting one foot in the grave. I have taken up golf.
Some of my friends with whom I have shared the antipathy I previously had for golf feel that I am a traitor. But for each one of those women, I have found another one who has said to me, “I’m playing golf too! Let’s play together sometime.” And, no surprise, these are women of a certain age. My age, that is. I wouldn’t say that I’m embarrassed that I’ve taken up golf although I do find myself telling some of my more judgmental friends when they call me, that I am in the dressing room at Eileen Fisher when, really, I am on the golf course.
I suspect that those telltale signs will keep accumulating. At least for now I stay current enough to say “he tweeted,” not “he twittered,” I can still recognize 10 percent of the actors who are featured in People magazine, I know how to copy and paste on the computer and among my friends I am the go-to person to help them with the settings on their cell phones. The dream would be that in 30 more years I’ll still be around just like my father-in-law was and, hard as it will be to get up from that chair, I’ll be grateful that I’m still standing.