Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The March of Time

I was in a fog on my sixtieth birthday and, honestly, while I always sort of adjust my age to be plus two more years to catch up to FFP, I'm not used to him being 62 and eligible for a social security check. While the young people have zoomed by me in so many ways (technically, culturally, etc.), I feel so comfortable with them, but then it is weird to find out their parents are younger than we are.

When you live to be as old as my dad, time has really swept you away. This morning he said "people say things are better now, but I don't know." I point out that they also say things are worse than whenever (or ever) and they weren't alive in their time of nostalgia or they weren't paying attention and they really have no idea. He agreed. He is halfway through a book I bought him. He mentioned to me one day that he read a book in high school that was about a trip around the world a guy took in the early twentieth century. He remembered accurately the name of the book (A Vagabond Journey Around the World: a Narrative of Personal Experience) and I figured it was one I found by Harry A Franck. I found a clean copy online (though published in 1910 it had a pretty good dust jacket) and it was in the mail to me in a few days. He said he remembered a few things from the first reading. He seemed to be enjoying reliving the wanderlust (never completely satisfied) the book engendered. He doesn't feel up to going to Dallas now. It's hard to believe he's rereading a book he read in high school that was published six years before he was born.

If you aren't careful, time will be the ruler of you. It's our most precious commodity and I guess it's our most-squandered one, too. (With the possible exception of crude oil.) Although I always wonder if people are 'wasting' time if they are really doing exactly as they please.

I am starting to feel old. While I feel great most of the time, I do have my aches and pains. My knee (strained in an almost fall during the move) still twinges now and then and I feel like I need my neoprene wrap to play tennis. Even with it I find playing two days in a row a little hard on it. I feel strong when we walk here and there and feel we've started to walk faster now. When I get up in the morning, I feel like an old woman, shuffling on creaky legs. Then I seem to work into a younger state on my pins after I've been up a while. Occasionally I feel a little dizzy in the morning, a combination of an assault on my equilibrium by allergies and a low blood pressure on rising, I think. This morning it came back when I got to the tennis center and part way through trying to play some California doubles I had to stop and get some coffee and let it pass.

Is sixty old? Actuarial information indicates that I'm supposed to live until 2027 when I'll be 79 years old. That sounds old until I realize that my dad and in-laws have cruised well beyond that. My mother died a little shy of 81 and her parents lived about that long, too. (I think her father actually lived to be 84, but he died long before her mother who was twenty-one years his junior.)

So no. I'm not old. And yet I am. I took my dad to IHOP the other day. We both ordered a senior breakfast. The young (not yet 21?) waitress demanded my driver's license. She seemed unclear on how old I needed to be, but learning I was sixty seemed old enough for anything.

I can't decide whether to feel old or young. Whether to feel betrayed by my body or grateful for how well it works. I know one thing: I feel guilty that I have accomplished so little in sixty years. There is still time, I suppose. But I do feel old. When I'm not feeling young.


jerry said...

Happy birthday, Linda, and many, many more!

Linda Ball said...

Thanks! It's funny since it's been so long since the day, but last night we were out with a group of friends and wanted something to celebrate so I decided to make it my birthday.