Age Related

By Rose Ann Sinay

My sister and I tried to slip by the kitchen door unnoticed while our aunts and our mother sat at the kitchen table talking about the extra flab around their middles, pain in their knees and back, diarrhea, constipation and every other thing that a teenager would find totally gross. My sister and I giggled and rolled our eyes as we tiptoed out of the house. “I will never be like that,” I said, laughing. “If I even say the word constipation, shoot me.” I will never be that old, I thought with the optimism of youth.

Contrary to my wishes, I “matured” just like everyone else. I finished school, got a job, got married, had babies, and changed diapers that would have made the teenager me gag just looking at the diaper box. Responsibility was my middle name.

Years passed too quickly, one rolling into the next. Time was measured by my children’s ever-changing heights (recorded on a pole in the basement), by my son’s advancing sports teams and my daughter’s gymnastic levels. The span between elementary school and high school evaporated, almost without notice. And then, after all the frantic years of rushing from work to games and activities, time stood still for my husband and me as our kids began transporting themselves.

Graduations and an empty nest made substituting chocolate bars for fresh spinach seem positively therapeutic. A move south to warm weather was sure to be the panacea for feeling left behind. It was time for us. Sun, sand and travel, it sounded like a great new beginning.

When Oprah Winfrey entered her fifties, she announced to her audience, she was grateful to be older and wiser and was going to “rock it out.” She made turning half a century sound exciting. I liked her positive attitude. And, I would have agreed had there not been the pervasive medical discussions in our new home in a gated community of retirees. Knee/hip replacements, carpal tunnel surgery, diverticulitis, plastic surgery, dry eye, torn rotator cuffs, and of course, constipation – I realized that Oprah’s world and mine were light years apart.

Suddenly, it appeared that deteriorating joints were contagious. The community shared doctors, experiences and walkers as we recovered from each ordeal. I couldn’t resist the compulsion to compare operations with my friends.

“Your scar looks great,” I lied when a fellow knee replacement recipient rolled up her sweat pants to reveal a thick wormlike scar. I quickly pulled up the hem of my Capri pants to show off a thin white straight line – it was the little things.

Somewhere along the line, my favorite television shows changed from the Food Network and Rehab Addict to Dr. Oz and Judge Judy. I began watching the exercise shows instead of actually doing it, myself. I remembered the kitchen table incident and signed myself up for an “Aging Gracefully” lecture. I shamed a few of my friends into going with me. We all needed an attitude adjustment, I insisted. Plus, lunch was included.

I dressed carefully the day of the event. I resisted the elastic waistband pants that I swore I’d never wear, and yet, had become my everyday uniform. Instead, I chose a sundress that had hung in my closet for two years, tags still attached. I held my breath three times while tugging the side zipper before I unearthed the amour-like body-shaper from the back of a dresser drawer. The cover-up sweater was inevitable.

I pulled out a pair of high heels purchased before my knee replacements. I’d never had the opportunity to wear them. A few steps in the shoes were all I needed to convince me that flats were back in style.

My friends and I arrived at the hotel sponsoring the lecture with at least seventy-five other women about our age. I took note of all the cover-up sweaters and breathed a sigh of relief – at least I wasn’t off the grid.

When we were seated and had devoured our choice of grilled chicken or fish with a fresh organic salad, our speaker appeared on stage. She was tall and slim. Her crisp white blouse was tucked into a black pencil skirt and belted with a vibrant red sash. Her hair was an elegant white wave that framed her face with her almost perfect skin (plastic surgery, I wondered?).

Our lecturer was lovely and charming. She moved with the grace of a thirty year old. Her advice was exercise, meditation, food choice and self-love – things that get pushed to the side as you take care of others. I already knew these things; so did most of the women in the room. We would take away a few suggestions to change some bad habits. But, as I talked to the women at our linen covered table we had one thing in common: we missed our families. Vacations and pampering were wonderful, but it didn’t fill our void. It was simple, really. We needed to be needed… and we needed to exercise.

My husband and I now live an hour (give or take) from our children and grandchildren – just far enough to keep from stepping on toes, yet close enough to be in their lives. The void is beginning to fill up again. I still eat chocolate and I share (a tiny bit) with my granddaughters when their mothers aren’t looking.

I talk to my sister weekly, and we’re close enough to visit regularly. We talk about our lives, our weight, and our aches and pains. It feels good to share and not be judged. When we complain too much, I tell her we’re just constipated.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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4 Responses to “Age Related”

  1. Tammy says:

    Thank you for seeing the humor of growing older – it eases the pain of aging! One day we will be sitting side by side rocking away but lets make sure we are still eating cake.

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    What a delightful read. I secretly dream about moving to a beach community, but your story has convinced me I would miss my babies, grown and still growing.

  3. Funny! Yeah, when you are a teen, you never imagine turning into your mother let alone your grandmother! We all feel your pain and know it well!

  4. Kailey says:

    Wow! I’m so excited to age! PS- I KNOW you sneak chocolate to Mila!

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