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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

OMG--I'm Turning Seventy-Four

Not long before my 70th birthday, I blogged about how I was feeling as I moved into my seventh decade. I'm attaching a link to that blog, if you want to compare what I was thinking then and what's up now.

I remember someone on Facebook responded to that blog and said something like "I felt pretty good when I celebrated my 70th. But by the time I was seventy-three, my back started . . ." She went on to list a series of physical ailments that had slowed her down and made getting older not so much fun. Ugh! And I remember saying to myself, "Well, I'm sorry for her, but there's no way that I'll be in her shoes. No way."

Hmm . . . Just today, I was feeling very sorry for myself because my knees ached, my back was stiff, and the knee brace I bought was too damn tight. When I could no longer feel my leg below the brace, I flew into action, ripping the sucker off and throwing it on the floor. No way I can return it now.

And no way that I can return to the younger woman I used to be.

It's funny how we recalibrate our expectations as we age. I know, for example, that my serious hiking days are over. (Not that I was ever planning on climbing Mt. Everest.) I'll be lucky if I can make it up a flight of stairs with the way my knees are buckling. That one-story ranch is looking more and more attractive.

I think--at least, for me-- the biggest recalibration at this stage in my life is learning how to ask for help. Not big ticket requests but smaller ones like asking one of those kind young men if he can please carry my groceries to the car or if a friend can please move the living room couch to the other side of the room. In the scheme of things, this is small stuff. Still, as a woman who has always celebrated my independence, having to ask others for a hand can feel like a defeat.

But there is no time for defeat. Nope, we older women are inventive crones who don't let little things like asking for help ruin our day or our psyche. My new approach is simple: I am an older woman and I'm proud. (Okay, so I borrowed from other play books but, hey, if it works, why not?) Honestly, I get a kick out of claiming my age with complete strangers. Sometimes, they are surprised. Good for my ego. Sometimes, they are solicitous. Good to get some help. Sometimes, they laugh right along with me as I flash my badge of experience, wisdom, and humor.

It ain't over yet--not by a long shot.


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