Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Growing Older

Crepe used to mean paper in bright, streaming colors—  
transforming the gymnasium on prom night.
Now it means skin without suppleness,
wrinkles that don’t disappear,
old age creeping across my throat and the backs of my hands,
settling in the crooks of my elbows.

Sagging used to belong to the old summer camp mattress,
all its bumps and lumps gathered at the edges
leaving an uncomfortable droop in the middle.
Now it’s my middle that droops,
like the skin on my thighs
and the wobbly tops of my arms
and both sides of my chin.

Age spots used to be something my grandmother had
and then my mother.
Now my own hands are speckled like a hen’s egg,
like a pear left too long in the sun.

Gray used to be  
the color of storm clouds,
my father’s old army blanket,
the galvanized bucket in the pantry,
but not my hair,
not my very own hair which once looked
like wheat ripening in the sun.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's A Scary Ride

 I've worn glasses for distance vision for years now but lately I've been holding printed material farther and farther from my face. Pretty soon my arms won't be long enough.

So, I took myself off to the optometrist and he prescribed new glasses for reading and adjusted lenses for distance vision. Because I live on a very limited income, I opted to have the new distance lenses fitted to my old frames. Of course, they were the only pair I owned so I had to leave them with the good doctor overnight. J drove me to the office to leave them yesterday and back again today to pick them up. I put them on and the floor came right up to within an inch of my face. I felt suddenly very short. "It will take a few days for your eyes to adjust," the good doctor said as I tipped about like a dashboard bobble-doll. "Call me in three or four days and let me know how it's going."

It was a scary ride home. I was glad J was driving.

Old age, we decided, might creep up but it's a fast creep and it starts early. Once you hit the top of the infamous Hill,  Age stands upright and begins to gallop. Neither J nor I have hit old age full on (I consider myself middle aged as I plan to live till 120), but the signs are there. Our joints creak and ache on and off. My hearing has diminished and we both have problems with our eyesight. We both sleep less. And less soundly. We've both gotten in the car and found ourselves wondering just where we were headed, or forget, when we've arrived, what we wanted (albeit momentarily and only occasionally). I told J it's as though my house cleaning strategy (find something in one room, take it to the room it belongs only to pick something up in that room and cart it elsewhere) has leaked into my every day living.

I have always made lists but occasionally now I forget to bring them with me. Grocery shopping has become a game of too many loaves of bread but no milk, three dozen eggs but no butter, two jugs of orange juice but no toilet paper, etc. I don't always forget the list and I can always make use of what I buy, but...

J reports that she leaves things behind. Her pocketbook doesn't always go home with her, or she loops it around her neck when she needs the ladies room and forgets it's there until the strap gets caught on the door handle. I sometimes make three trips from the house to the car to the house for things like glasses, keys, or water bottle.

It's like being in an old, rusty car with failing brakes only its your kidneys, your digestive system, your recall that are wearing out. All the sanding and patching and repainting in the world isn't going to make the car new again. J jokes that she's on the 20-year plan. Me, I'm holding out for 40. It may take me that long to adjust to my new glasses!