The Other “M” Word

By Linda O'Connell

The Other "M" Word

Indeed, with age comes change. I’ve heard it said that age is only a number. Well, my numbers keep adding up.

I went to see my young, thin doctor who doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body. I looked at the pictorial display posted in the exam room of her with her bicycling team – obviously one of the reasons why she is so in shape. I thought of the last time I’d bicycled. It was five years ago. Then, I had replaced my narrow seat with a wide gel seat for comfort. Because my husband and I were going to tackle the entire eight mile nearby trail, I decided to enhance my comfort. I grabbed a plump, small, navy blue toss pillow off the couch. I cut a slit along a seam and slipped it over my bike seat, intending to sew it back up when we returned. My rear was so sore by the time we arrived back home. When we pulled into the driveway, I hopped off and went to retrieve my pillow. It was deflated, flatter than a pancake. Empty! I must have left an eight mile long trail of shredded white stuffing. And here I thought people were just being overly friendly that day as they smiled and chuckled at me. Hubby hung my bike up in the shed, and I haven’t had the urge to take it down off the hook since.

The doctor recently gave me a thorough exam and declared me in good health, except for one thing. She claimed my condition was due to hormones, or lack thereof. She never actually used the “M” word that women the world over despise, but we both knew what she meant. She wasn’t talking menopause. She says I have the dreaded malady that comes from being over the hill. She explained that slowed metabolism causes some women to put on five pounds a year.

“No way! Every year?” I blathered on, blamed my weight gain on summer vacation when I went wild at the floating buffet. I vowed to unpack those pounds as fast as I’d unpacked my suitcase. It didn’t happen. I tried everything to rid myself of what neither of us could bring ourselves to say. I was suffering from the big “M,” middle age spread.

Next, I went to my dentist, who looks as though he just graduated high school. He has family photos plastered all over the place of his wife and three children, so I know he’s at least thirty.

He has no idea yet what age will eventually do to him and his picture perfect wife.

He also had no idea what to do with me when I started crying in the dental chair. He went to get his receptionist who held my hand and tried to soothe me.

He’d set me off when he said, “You see, people your age…” Then, I completely lost it when he said my broken bridge would cost $1,500 dollars. Well, at least I wouldn’t be binging at another floating buffet. My next cruise vacation money was now designated for my young dentist’s vacation.

My podiatrist claimed that old joints wear out, and he mentioned something about use it or lose it. I got up and got moving. Right out the door. Hubby and I decided to go dancing. The band played old time rock and roll, our kind of music. The beat went on, and on, and on as they blended three consecutive dance songs without a break in between. We didn’t want to look like weenies, so we stayed up on our feet, but we were so winded we couldn’t talk for half an hour.

The “fifteen-year-old” dermatologist who allowed me to sit in when my husband had a benign cyst removed from his shoulder, made my day worse. He commented that at our age all sorts of barnacles will start to appear: cling-ons such as age spots, skin tabs, moles. As we headed out of his office, he tried to drum up more business. He tugged at the sides of his face, looked directly at me and said, “If you are interested in having anything lifted, I do that, too.” I wanted to tell him a thing or two, but as I passed a mirror, I realized he was just trying to help an old gal out.

Age has its drawbacks and its advantages. The down side seems all downhill, but there is an upside. Senior discounts are definitely a perk, but it is the confidence that comes with getting older that makes aging worthwhile.

When I was a young mother, I was uncertain about my parenting ability. I listened politely to unwanted advice. Now, I give it. When I was a new teacher, I dreaded parent-teacher conferences. Now as a veteran teacher and grandmother, I confidently share my knowledge and experience. My students’ parents value my opinions and ideas. Early in my career, I wore long skirts so that people wouldn’t see my knees knock when I addressed a crowd at school performances. These days, I take to the stage and do public speaking from podiums and lecterns at schools. I also present workshops for writers across our state. I have rubbed elbows with stars, and stars-to-be. I urge others to strive to be the best that they can be, to attain their goals now, and to not wait until they are my age.

With a friendly air of authority, I now approach people, tackle tasks, and force myself to go out there and achieve that which I was too frightened to do when I was in my youth. Yes, age is only a number, but as my numbers increased, so did my patience and confidence.

My doctor is right. I do have middle age spread. I am confidently spreading around my knowledge, expertise and assistance, encouraging and uplifting others.

About this writer

  • Linda O’ConnellLinda O’Connell is a seasoned preschool teacher and award-winning freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri. Her prose and poetry have appeared in books, magazines and anthologies. As Linda waltzed through the decades, she discovered her age of elegance was in her forties, but she isn’t complaining. Life has been an adventure. Linda resides in the Midwest but her heart and soul hang out at the beach.

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58 Responses to “The Other “M” Word”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Adorable piece– witty and insightful! I could empathize and identify with every word. I think you must be my twin. Like you, I raised kids to the best of my ability, taught kids in public school but feared I didn’t teach them enough, and have had a dermatologist suggest remedies for my turkey neck that Debbie Boone sings about on tv and it sounds like “light up my life,” but I think the message is lighten up the chin fat and pull up those cheeks!

    I always enjoy your take on life!–erika

  2. Myra says:

    Epic….. yea for telling it like it is, Linda!
    IF the wanna-be ‘Marcus Welby’-set has the privilege of growing older, I hope they enjoy the taste of crow!

    Oh, there’s lots I’ve left behind … but I wouldn’t trade a day of firmer skin for what’s now residing in my heart and mind!

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Myra, Thanks for your comments. I’m telling you, there is something to be said about youth, but with age comes wisdom.

  3. Linda–As usual, you handle bits of everyday life with humor and honesty. Yes, the older we get…the younger our doctors seem to be. If I live much longer, I will have to diaper my physician before they examine me.

    Thanks for sharing this story with the rest of the world. We all need to chuckle more…

  4. Val says:

    I know what you mean. On the last two visits, my doctor put me in the old folks exam room. The one with the osteoporosis poster on the wall.

    On the other hand, he seemed impressed that I had published a couple of stories. It was all he could do to keep from patting me on the head.

  5. Oh, Linda, I can relate to every area! My children are older than my healthcare providers. Given the time and unlimited supply of money, I’d lift and tuck, scrape and suck out every ounce of fat, unwanted hair, tags, gray hairs, etc. Great article!

  6. Marcel Toussaint says:

    Linda O’Connell is full of fun and surprises, she entertains with a sense of humor that pops up in between the words well chosen in her sentences…

  7. I enjoyed your piece, Linda. I can so relate to everything you’ve said. Hubby and I went to a buffet last week and we both got the senior citizen discount. I don’t qualify but apparently the guy taking our money thought I did. I was off in my own little world at the time, not listening, and didn’t learn about this until later. Hubby had a chuckle about it. I didn’t think it was so funny.

  8. Allison says:

    Here’s to spreading your growing wisdom and spot-on humor to all of us. Thank you, Linda!

  9. bobbybarbarasmith says:

    Wonderful piece! I relate to all of it, even your comment about kid cops! It reminded me of my last speeding ticket, issued by a kid cop, but not before he lectured me. I bite my tongue to keep my thoughts from tumbling out of my mouth. ” Look Sonny, I was driving when you were just a twinkle in your Dad’s eye.” Is it any wonder I didn’t get off with a warning? I’m sure the eye rolling didn’t help. Great work Linda, as always.

  10. Pat says:

    I can so relate to this story, Linda, as I remind myself getting older sure beats the alternative!

  11. What an enjoyable read. Thanks, Lin! :-)

  12. Tammy says:

    Thank you for a much-needed laugh! Beautifully said and so true!

  13. Susan says:

    Excellent essay, Linda. So true.

    Yeah, the M word can sure be intimidating but I’d like to add MARVELOUS . I wouldn’t trade youth for my age for anything. Of course, I’d take the more slender body. Ha!

    Really enjoyed that, Linda. Susan

  14. Linda O'Connell says:

    Susan, I like the way you think! Thank you for your comments.

  15. Tracey says:

    Great writing skills & story! Age is just a number. Looking forward to viewing more published material from you!

  16. So many times I look in the mirror and wonder who that old lady is looking back, only to realize it is me and wonder when I got old. I don’t remember getting old, I was too busy living! I pondered which “M” word you might be addressing. You left out mammogram!!

  17. Friko says:

    Linda, I like your attitude. Real confidence comes with experience and experience comes from living.

    If we are willing to learn throughout our life and don’t get too smug or uppity doing it, even our ‘unwanted’ advice might find an accepting ear – and brain – here and there.

  18. Linda, we must have been separated at birth. Your life echoes mine in sooo many ways. Great article!

  19. It’s all so true, Linda. I love the final line with the play on middle age spread. I remember those years when my medical providers were much older…none left older than me now. When my late husband was getting hospice visits, a social worker accompanied the nurse to see him. She was explaining something about the Neptune Society, and I said I already had downloaded a form online and filled it in at Ken’s request. She looked at me in amazement and said, “Oh, you know how to use a computer?” Jeesh.

  20. Linda…
    As always, fantastic writing… funny, poignant and relatable. I am just now hitting that phase of wondering why the police officers, doctors, etc. are no longer “older and wiser” than me. Hmmm…!

  21. Pat Nelson says:

    Sad to say, I can relate to everything Linda O’Connell said. I add pounds that stick like Super Glue and when I look in the mirror, I see myself decorated with new knots and bumps . . . that mole on my eyelid, for example, that always makes my eyeliner pencil stutter. What, I wonder, if that little mole continues to grow? Will I need a wide paintbrush to apply my eyeliner?! Linda hasn’t even met me, yet she captured my life in her story. Good job, LInda O’Connell.

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Pat, your comments made me chuckle. My doctor calls those skin clings barnacles. Now doesn’t that makes us sound like some old washed up sea hag?

  22. LOL – hilarious and oh so true, Linda. To weight the same now that I did when I was 9 months pregnant the first time used to bother be. I live more to be happy than skinny these days (though I’d gladly wake up 20 pounds lighter tomorrow). Wonderful piece.

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Hope! How exciting to see your name here. Thank you for your comments. You know, come to think of it, the thing that defines my growth is the letter on the tag of my pants.

  23. Love the new definition for middle age spread!

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Cheryl, thank you for your comment. I am comfortable in the skin I’m in. It’s like wearing stretch pants.

  24. river says:

    Ah! The dreaded Middle age spread. I always swore that wouldn’t happen to me. Sadly, my middle is currently as round and as wide as my bum. I’d like to think that’s because my bum shrank….but we know the truth don’t we?

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      River, I had to laugh out loud, because I say, If you see me from a distance, you can’t tell if I’m coming or going. Thank you for your comments.

  25. Theresa Sanders says:

    Adored this piece, Linda! As usual, your wit, your light — and most of all your love — shine right through. Thank you for making me smile this morning.

  26. Rose Ann says:

    Loved this, Linda. Aging gracefully is an art we’re still perfecting! Great article!

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Rose Ann,
      Some days are better than others, but since I have discovered coconut oil as a face cream, I’m happier.

  27. Daisy says:

    I loved this article, Linda. All of my doctors look younger every year! That is a dreaded “M” word, indeed! Great job with this!

  28. Linda O'Connell says:

    Daisy,
    Thanks for your comments. Just think of all the positive M words. It’s the s word I am dreading: a foot of snow.

  29. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! Linda O’Connell’s writing style is sweet, insightful, and hilarious. Linda, thank you for making me laugh, while I’m stuck at home in the middle of a snow storm with a husband with 4 broken ribs who can’t sit or stand, 3 hormonal teenage girls , a huge hole in the ceiling (from the broken rib fiasco), and two yappy chubby rescue chihuahuas…I needed a laugh! Thank you!

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Laura thank you for your comments. You deserve a laugh after your experiences. Life has a way of tossing us material.

  30. Thanks, Linda, for making those of us who are over 50 sound like rock stars. :)

  31. Linda O'Connell says:

    Lisa, thank you for your comment. We have to think of ourselves in rock bands, not rocking chairs.

  32. Theresa Sanders says:

    Love this piece, Linda. As usual, your wit, your talent, and most of all your love, shine right through. Thanks so much for making me smile today. Hugs!

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