I was enjoying lunch at a local café when I overheard one staffer say to another that she was facing her twenty fifth birthday soon. She went on to say, 25 is the last “real” birthday, after that “you’re just getting old”. I had to laugh, since I’m well past that age and holding up. Sure, there are some wrinkles and gray hair to contend with, that’s life.
I remember my last “big” birthday. The first greeting card came from Blue Shield, a full month in advance of my fortieth birthday. They were writing to inform me; I would be entering a new age category and could expect a change in my health insurance rates. Yes, they would be going up. They were even so kind as to pro-rate the dues as my big day fell in the middle of the month, how thoughtful. Well, there was no way of getting around it, I’m getting older.
Still, I ‘m not complaining, I rather enjoy the security that comes with age, knowing not everything is a crisis. Fortunately, many of my friends have crossed this threshold and were waiting with sage advice. They reminded me not to take myself so seriously, let go of worries, be flexible and open minded, most importantly to enjoy every day.
I am lucky too, to have my parents as models for healthy aging. They keep their minds active with regular Scrabble games and crossword puzzle challenges. Dad was still skiing into his seventies and even now in their eighties; they hike, swim and play tennis. At my wedding, it was my parents who spent the most time on the dance floor, waltzing together for over 50 years now.
While visiting recently in the grocery store, my friend and I, both of us now officially middle aged, struggled to recall what we were talking about after a brief interruption. We decided it was a simple case of poor concentration; surely it was not memory loss. We joked about all the advantages of our new status, the wisdom for example, to know better than wearing low rider pants and the ability to laugh at ourselves, forgive quicker and speak our minds more freely. Yes, there are plenty of advantages and a certain freedom that comes with age, freedom from worrying what others may think and freedom to befriend yourself and accept the imperfections, wrinkles and all.
It turns out; aging is a blessing, a gift to be treasured.
Aldebra Schroll is a family physician who blogs An Apple a Day.
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