“This is harder than it used to be” has been going through my head lately. Physical strength is something I never gave a second thought to. I’ve always been a fast mover and used to work, volunteer, parent, and party late on Sat. night then get up early on Sun. to water ski all day. My partner in life has always been able to help move couches from wall to wall, build fences when it’s 95°, and fix anything that doesn’t work right… no matter how tight the work space. Naps were for grannies whose lives moved at a snail’s pace… but that was then. How times change.
I don’t think of myself as the grannie-type yet, but I have to admit, taking a half hour rest before my feet hit the dance floor usually means stepping on fewer toes! And my exercise routine has now been elevated to mandatory status. I’ve said it before, but it’s still one of my favorite lines, “It feels good to feel good.”
Loss comes in many flavors and hearing my husband’s words recently, “I’m losing my grip” is a new one on me. Not, as in losing his mind, but his actual grip. The kind you need when you’re pruning an overgrown hedge or pulling the cork out of the wine bottle. Until that point, I never thought of hands even having muscles. I know biceps, quads and abs, but hands? Hmmm.
From this woman’s perspective, the loss of youth is different. The culture’s obsession with how we all look makes our loss mostly about weight and wrinkles and sagging skin. It’s obvious. The pressure for men seems more about being physically strong and capable, so when that slips — for instance your grip — the loss of youth is deeply felt. You might even need help next time you wrestle your refrigerator.
Adjusting to loss is always about change, and that’s obvious when you lose a loved one or get laid off. But getting older is different because it’s gradual. Around age 40 the print on the page seems smaller than it used to, then a single gray hair appears, then… the grip. I know one thing for sure, whatever I’m going though, laughing at myself has always made it easier to swallow.
My intention in writing a book about loss and grief was to help us all get through these times easier. To be alive is to experience loss. There is no choice. The stages in adjusting to unwanted change are pretty predictable, depending on the circumstance, and the process usually ends up in the same place — Acceptance. Denial comes first but it serves us well. Dying our hair and dipping further into the lotion pool softens the blow and helps us land on our feet sooner.
I’m far enough into this “getting older” routine to know that along with a loss of vitality and the creamy smooth skin of youth, there are gains. My husband might curse his weakened grip but we both appreciate how much smarter we are now, the slower pace of our lives and the time to enjoy it more. But the perks of getting older — and there are many — is the subject for another blog post.
Weeded Out This Week: The impulse to start dodging when my children point their iPhones in my direction.