The urge to purge. That’s what gives me immense pleasure these days. Getting rid of all the old stuff, to prepare for the new that I will infuse into my life. A momentous day includes a trip to the landfill to toss broken appliances, used engine oil, and dead batteries. I love going to the Salvation Army where I’ll bring old clothes, worn household items and no longer needed books. All are relics and artifacts of years past, in the feng sui tradition of clearing space to let in the light of a new day.
I am a baby boomer, maybe what you consider the scourge of your practice. When I walk into your office, perhaps you see anemic Medicare reimbursement, knees that will soon need replacement and a don’t-tell-me-sonny-I’m-half-your age attitude.
But, I’d like to give you some advice, which my age permits. It’s in your best interest to treat me with the same respect and attention as you give your millennial patients, at least those who acknowledge that they won’t live forever.
I advise you to stop treating boomers like old people and face the possibility that we’ll be around for a long while. Continue reading “Dear Doctor”
I consider myself something of a retirement maven, having left my full-time career almost 15 years ago. On paper and in practice, it would appear that I have followed all advice in my preparation for a worry-free future. My financial advisor gave me the thumbs up, I mended any social rifts and I have maintained a grueling schedule of doctor’s appointments in the interest of remaining healthy. Over time, I have gradually eased into a “life is good” lifestyle, and I thank all those retirement gurus who helped me get here.
I recently returned from a family reunion. Such a daunting experience. Photos from decades ago flashed on a 65-inch screen while friends and family dabbed their eyes in fond memory. Loved ones turned to me and said: “You were so beautiful back then.” What is the right response? Thank you for noticing that Mother Nature has ravaged me or At least I’m not dead yet? I doubt that any retort is apt, and so, like any other public angst, I grinned til it was over. The slide show, that is. I still gotta a lotta living left. No matter what those people said about me.
The reality is I’m a senior citizen. The world thinks my job consists of trekking to countless doctors’ appointments and draining the Social Security trust. I may say things like “Age is just a number” or “You’re only as old as you feel” but I will admit that I’m not happy that the hands that drum to Bohemian Rhapsody on my steering wheel sometimes look like my grandmother’s. And, while my mother is an example of graceful aging, I sure don’t want my reflection in the mirror to be a dead ringer for her.
Swimming is my meditation. Strokes forward, head underwater, gazing at the aqua world that surrounds me. Rhythm in my moves, remotely connected to the world around me, aware that people are nearby yet not engaged with them. It’s an activity in which no one expects me to do anything except move forward and back, one end of the pool to the other. All sense of time falls by the wayside as my body settles into a pattern of movement designed to stretch and release all tension and anxiety. It’s life at its best. A blue gem shimmering in the morning light, sunlight streaming through the blue azure sky and white cotton ball clouds.
Despite what the numbers might say on my birth certificate, the Grim Reaper was not invited to my birthday party. I’m sure he thinks that 65 candles are a fire hazard way beyond my lung capacity. What he didn’t know was that I’d been training for this Medicare showdown since I turned 60.
The last time I passed that milestone birthday, I decided that, I’d get awesome, not old. Having wasted most of my life learning how to be a grownup, I wondered how one becomes awesome.
My answer was to create my 60+ year old self into an improved version of me. I would go toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye against aging. It was going to take all my body parts working together to tame this thing. Turning back the clock may not be possible, but slowing down its forward movement was doable.
Fitness magazines touted exercise as a possibility toward graceful aging. As if on cue, Melanie, my 25-year old daughter-in-law, invited me to hot yoga.
Exercise, healthy eating and a variety of potions (which are my secret) keep me alive and kicking as I enter the years that some call “senior.” I realize that I won’t be able to hold aging off indefinitely, but I can probably drag my feet long enough that it will wait for me.
Face it. We’re all looking for the Fountain of Youth. Some of us subject ourselves to botox injections, although personally I’d rather die with my wrinkles than let anyone near my face with a needle. But that’s just me. Perhaps if I were a movie star or some other public figure I’d want my looks to take precedence over my sanity and comfort.