I’ll be 65 in a month. Sixty-five. We all have milestone years…some of you are way ahead of me and think 65 is young. Some younger folk think it’s ancient.
I remember as a kid I thought my parents were old people. And they were 25-30. My grandparents, at the ripe old age of 50, were fossils.
I just read a book, and the protagonist kept referring to the old lady next door. Further along in the novel, it turned out the old lady was 57. The nerve.
I sure don’t feel like a fossil. Well, my body and cognitive functions are greedily taking on the role.
Here’s the catch. I refuse to act old. To the consternation of many people, my goofiness is irritating…even my dearest friends sometimes find me bothersome…but it’s who I am.
I’m the one who will take on pretty much any adventure, challenge, calculated risk. Ok, well, my multiple concussions, broken bones and arthritis now prohibit some of the riskier things, but I incurred every one of those scars from my crazy antics.
Two of the reasons I live life like I do, are my great-aunts, Lena and Louise. They were identical twins who lived together their entire lives, deciding they made a better team than any of their prospective suitors could have.
I once asked the twins, when they were 95, what they would do different if they could do it all over. Not skipping a beat, Lena answered for both of them, “Oh, we would have appreciated our 80’s more.”
Those girls added so much joy, love and optimism to my life, and filled me with an even greater sense of adventure. They were up for anything (within reason) and their response to virtually any invitation was, “why not?” I asked if I could take them to Pismo to drive on the beach. “Why not!” Looking in my rearview mirror I saw two little cotton-tops, barely peeking over the rolled-down windows, noses pointing skyward and inhaling the salty air.
Louise lived to 96, and Lena flourished til her 100th birthday, a tremendous feat as she’d never been without her beloved Louise. Fairly soon after finding herself alone, she chose to embrace life again. At one point she got an eye infection, and the doctors eventually had to remove the eye. Her immediate reaction? “Well, at least I’ve got another one.”
I try to pull off a ‘why not?’ at least once a day. Sure, there are days when my body is a definite “but why?” We all have those. But even on those days, I change out of my jammies (usually) and drive to the beach. There are many places to park, roll down the windows and breathe in the sights, sounds and smells. It rarely fails to put me back into a ‘why not’ state of mind.
George Burns gets credit for some of my favorite quotes: “They say ‘Life begins at forty.’ That’s silly. Life begins every morning you wake up.” “I’d rather be over the hill than under it.” “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”
There are so many things to do when we’re older. Beyond the county, the list is endless.
We can travel, eat at that fancy restaurant, skydive, ride in a helicopter, bungee jump, race cars, and so on. But even here in our glorious Estero Bay, there is so much to explore. We’ve got stunning beaches, extinct volcanos, scenic drives. We can hike, taste wine, fish, kayak, golf, bike, fly kites, bird watch, take art classes…and on and on. Be as ambitious or gentle as you like.
But at the very least, go look at the water.