As I started to write just now, I realized that the blog I’d written in my head yesterday has now gone AWOL. I had a title and everything and now – nothing. This is a perfect segue, though, into another topic I’ve been intending to write about and that’s the little issues, the little reminders of aging. Last night as my mother-in-law and I climbed the long, steep flight of stairs from this Italian city’s main piazza to our apartment, my mother-in-law stopped to catch her breath and said, “I guess the problem is that I think I should still be able to do things the way I did when I was your age.” You have to understand that my mother-in-law is not a doddering old lady. She’s active and interested; she plays golf, exercises, travels and has an extensive circle of social contacts. I think she’s a good model for positive aging, but she, obviously, feels she should be able to do more. I’ve thought about the little things that change as we age. Like my mother-in-law, perhaps we have to stop to catch our breath when walking up a long flight of stairs. Like me this morning, perhaps the thoughts that were so concrete in my mind yesterday have simply decided to crawl into a hole in my brain – maybe never to be seen again, but more likely to pop up in the middle of some completely unrelated activity. I’ve noticed even smaller changes. When I get into or out of a car now, I no longer jump in or hop out. I now sit down completely before swinging my legs in – the opposite when getting out. If I don’t, I feel twinges in my back that I know too well can lead to much bigger pains.
Regardless of what I want to believe about how young I feel, the signs are there that the years are marching by. I don’t want to fall into the hole of “getting old”, so perhaps the right path is simply to acknowledge and accommodate these little reminders – stopping for a breath, taking a few more seconds to get out of a car, but to go on living with the excitement and inquisitiveness of my younger self.