I will be 70 this summer and have lots of arthritis and various other really minor issues. I’m feeling depressed about getting older.
Feeling the Pain
Dearie: Oh, goodness, I know just how she feels. You look in the mirror and can’t believe the face there is yours. And of course you feel the aches and pains. And nothing is like it was.
Barbara: Mama, I’m surprised. I always thought you handled this growing older stuff really well — taking it in stride.
Dearie: Of course I did. You don’t have a choice, do you? But what you show on the outside isn’t necessarily what it feels like inside.
Barbara: Mama, you sound a little cranky!
Dearie: Well, I suppose I haven’t always been so happy. I try to manage and not make a fuss, but it’s not always so easy.
Barbara: What’s been the hardest for you?
Dearie: Not having the energy any more. It takes longer to walk anywhere. It takes longer to get dressed; I don’t have the energy to cook. Sometimes I ache after I’ve walked or gone to the grocery store. Isn’t there a song, “my get up and go has gone out and went.” That’s how I feel.
Barbara: Mama, that’s funny. I like that you can remember those things.
Dearie: Sure, but it doesn’t help change things. I’m still old.
Barbara: You still do plenty of things. So maybe, you can’t go as fast or you’re not as strong but you’re still here and thankfully, you don’t have memory problems. I feel really lucky to be able to talk to you about books and the news. And you’re still interested in people and keeping in touch with all your friends.
Dearie: I know, but sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough.
Barbara: This is upsetting to me to hear you talk this way. Don’t make me worry about you. Mama, you’re a lot older than 70 now, so what do you remember about turning 70?
Dearie: I’m sorry, sweetie. You have to let me be cranky sometimes. I’m getting along and you don’t need to worry. One thing I do remember about those earlier old years was thinking our generation was no longer in the center of things – people in the news and people who were in charge at work were younger. It felt like Daddy and I weren’t important any more, you and your generation were now in charge.
Barbara: That’s funny, because at my age I sometimes want to say, “When I grow up….”
Dearie: Isn’t that thinking there’s always something to look forward to or try to achieve. That’s hope.
Barbara: Is there something you want to achieve?
Dearie: I used to want to do something important in my work or always be on the move. But not now, not anymore.
Barbara: Is that because you don’t have the energy or you’ve shifted and feel more relaxed, sort of content.
Dearie: It’s both of those things. I know I said I get frustrated with the aches and pains and how tired I get, but most of the time I’ve learned to live with it. And when I look in the mirror I can feel ok about what I see, but I do notice all the wrinkles.
Barbara: Does it bother you?
Dearie: It used to, not so much anymore.
Barbara: When I notice my wrinkles, it bothers me!!
Dearie: That’s because you’re still young!