Old age: It sneaks up on you | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | April 10, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: April 6, 2016 at 10:45 am

My husband is 60, which, as everyone knows, is the new 40. Except he’s not buying it.
“Sixty is 60,” he says. “I didn’t have any aches and pains at 40.”
He has a point. On any given day, his back, shoulder, head or stomach hurts. (In fairness, the last one turned out to be a bad gallbladder.)
I’m 55, and suddenly I have sore feet and a peculiar rash that comes and goes. My metabolism has gone squirrelly, deciding (despite double-digit hours of cardio every week) to gain weight on a diet of air and water.
This stage of life seems inherently unfair. You work hard, pay taxes … and go to pieces?
About two years ago, my right Achilles tendon started to hurt. I went to the chiropractor for treatments, learned some stretches and promptly forgot about them, mainly because my thighs started aching intermittently, followed by back pain and a rash on my chest that I won’t describe in case you’re eating.
In short, I started to fall apart.
“It’s normal, don’t worry about it,” Widdle said.
“It’s not normal,” I sniveled. “Our bodies are designed to move.”
“Fine,” he said. “Keep moving.”
Which I did, until I couldn’t.
Two weeks ago I was power-walking while talking on the phone (I know, I know), and suddenly lurched forward into a pothole, so deep my head snapped back. Two steps later, I knew I was in trouble.
I still can’t walk without Aleve, but whatever was damaged seems to be healing, slowly and painfully. Opinions are divided between metatarsal tendonitis and stress fracture. But time, ice (and a new, expensive pair of running shoes) seem to be helping. A sensible person would get an MRI to rule out a fracture, but it’s me. I’ll keep going until my foot heals or falls off.
Between body and face, I’m fighting the clock tooth and nail. If potions, lotions, exercise, inversion tables (aka hanging upside down like a bat) and clean eating could turn back time, I’d look like Pippi Longstocking. Unfortunately, none of that stuff restores youth. I’m probably healthier than a 55-year-old with a doughnut in each hand (I don’t judge), but nothing you eat or rub on your skin will erase wrinkles.
Then came chin hair. I know women who keep tweezers in their purses, cars and gym bags, because apparently a $75 lighted makeup mirror is no match for daylight and a rear-view mirror.
After also acquiring some fuzzy-looking lip lines, my ears started getting bigger. Seriously — and the left one is larger than the right. So I have mismatched ears, chin hair and ripply lips. Things are getting interesting.
Widdle, on the other hand, has no vanity. His hair fell out, and he shrugged. The remainder turned gray and he said, “Meh.” The ravages of age simply don’t register with him. Which is fine, because I didn’t fall in love with his body or his face. It was his hands.
I first noticed them on our third date. We were heading to a concert in Columbia. I turned slightly to ask him something and saw his hands, resting lightly on the steering wheel. They were strong and lightly tanned, with long, tapered fingers. I couldn’t stop staring at them.
“Do you play the piano?” I blurted, completely at random.
“No,” he said, and smiled. “But I took lessons as a kid.”
To this day his hands are my favorite body part. I’m weird that way. And he’s weird, because he swears I’m skinny and don’t need makeup.
“Your eyes are going bad,” I say, and we laugh and laugh. And limp around.

(Julie R. Smith, who will not age gracefully, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.)

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