One Red Leaf… by Nancy Brophy
Growing up in Texas, the iris was my favorite flower. In our backyard they bloomed just before Easter. I had never realized how closely aligned I had mentally placed the two until I moved to the Northwest where the iris doesn’t bloom until late May.
Different parts of the country give us very different seasons. July 4th is the official beginning of summer in Portland. If you plan an outdoor wedding prior to Independence Day, you’d better have a rain contingency. So it feels like summer just got here when what did I see while driving yesterday? Green leaves turning red – the advent of fall.
One month of summer is not enough for me. I write a lot about the weather. And if you are a Freudian maybe you can detect a secret longing for non-aging. Real frankly, though, it’s not much of a secret. I hate getting older. Not because I miss youth, but because my body is beginning to betray me in ways I don’t expect.
Some of which I can’t hide. What did you say? Going deaf is not as much fun as you think. Snap, crackle and pop which used to be reserved for the breakfast cereal not describes the sound my knees make when I rise from a sitting position but I’ve added three-part harmony by emitting a low moan.
Glasses, which I added twenty years ago, mean facial makeup is now performed by Braille. And I have developed strings of floaty things in my vision.
Here is the phrase I’ve come to hate. “It’s a normal part of aging.”
Lots of articles are written about how certain youth-obsessed Hollywood actresses are not aging gracefully. Usually they are adjacent to an article with a heading like ‘73 year old, Jane Fonda’s knock-out body’ and photographs. Aging gracefully is an urban myth. Simply put you are as old as you feel. My attitude is – if you don’t feel 60 – why behave according to someone else’s rules?
Age-appropriate behavior is in the eye of the beholder. When you’re 23 the difference between 60 and Driving Miss Daisy is negligible. My mother never believed in age and I hope she’s passed that down to me. At 89 with macular degeneration, my mother hated staying home so much that she decided on a new career path and took a class to become a court-appointed mediator. She was the oldest participant which she claimed provided her with superior wisdom.
Young and beautiful is part of the American anthem. With the flexible bodies we’ve seen for the past two weeks of the well-trained Olympians, I long for the imaginary youth I never had.
We don’t appreciate where we are in our lives. I thought I was fat when I wasn’t. I didn’t take care of my body when I should have. Never was I the prototype for the American ideal. But if I’m lamenting a past that was never my future, I also never became a ballet dancing or a concert pianist.
Like most people I stumbled into who I am and learned a few painful lessons along the way. But I learned to like myself and I’ve had an interesting life that isn’t anywhere near over. In fact I’m just beginning. Watch out, world. Here I come.