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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Eternal Questions of the Midnight Mind

My birthday is almost upon me, and honestly, I'm feeling it this year. Something about being so close to (and in some instances, qualifying for) a senior discount is unsettling.

I used to tell myself that it's just a number, it doesn't matter how old I am as long as I feel ok and can physically do what I want, but lately I've been overtaken by doubt. The weirdest worries start creeping in while I'm laying in bed not sleeping because I'm getting to the age where sleep is actually a problem and hey! that's another worry, isn't not sleeping bad for you? Here's just a sampling of what's running through my head at 2am. And 3am. Then again at 4am:

  • What if I actually succeed at losing the middle aged spread I've gained and end up looking worse? Is the fat filling in the lurking wrinkles and making me look younger?
  • How is it possible to have so many gray hairs, but the ones that are starting to sprout on my chin are my original hair color? And why do they grow so fast?
  • Is my indigestion an oncoming heart attack, or is it due to the fact I ate a cookie after dinner? And how is it I used to be able to eat cookies for dinner and suffer no ill effects?
  • How can I fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV at 8:30pm and sleep like the dead, but when I drag myself to bed at 10:00pm I'm wide awake?
  • How much money do I need before I can retire? How long will I live? And what does cat food taste like anyway?

Mark and I always argue about who will go first. "I'm out before you," I'll say, "you're in much better shape." " Oh no, I'm going first," he insists, "women always live longer than men." Now I'm starting to think, yeah, I do want to go first–I don't want to figure out how to live without Mark around–but not yet. I'm not done with life, I've got too many things left on my bucket list, which seems to be continually growing.

While I do admit parts are starting to break down a little (my knees complain a bit if I walk or run  too far, that wrinkle-filling weight isn't going away fast, even with knee-pain-inducing levels of exercise) I still feel relatively good. I haven't had any major health problems, nothing's really tripped me up yet.

That uneasy feeling though, it won't go away. It feels like something is out there that I need to do, but I don't know what it is, and I feel like I'm running out of time. Somebody needs to give me a hint, because my old brain just can't seem to come up with it.

Future retirement location?
We might be able to afford this fixer-upper when we retire.
Rhyolite, NV

I think about all my older relatives and how they dealt with this. Everyone seems to have a different approach. Mark's grandfather, who retired in his 50s and lived well into his 90s, always had the same response for the 20+ years I knew him:

"How ya doing Grandpa?"

I always know my Mom is doing ok when she responds "Functioning normally." My family isn't super expressive, but it gets the point across.

On the flip side, a few of the older relatives used to go into great, blush-inducing detail about their woes, to the point you wanted to tear your eyes out and stuff them in your ears so you didn't have to bear witness anymore. I think it made them feel better though, to get it off their elderly minds and shift the worry to someone else for a bit. That, and toward the end I don't think there was much else for them to talk about.

I have a notion that not many people have it figured out, at least that's my hope. I can't be the only one who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up yet. I'll just keep plugging away and hope I'll stumble across the answer one of these days. And, if life turns out to have no higher purpose, then perhaps I can find happiness in knowing I did the best I could, and didn't make too many people unhappy in the process (myself included).

May you all have a successful and fulfilling April, the month of my (and many others of course)  birth.

And if you think of what it was we were supposed to be doing, drop me a line will you?


  1. Well said. I have a feeling a lot of this may be on all of our minds this year.

  2. From all of us following you into the double nickel club this year keep at it; keep writing, keep running and take hormones so you can sleep. As one octogenarian said to me last week, "the best we can hope for is to stay on the right side of the grass". PS How long can we keep calling ourselves "middle aged"? It look me a long time to come to terms with the moniker and now I wonder if I can still pretend I am only half way there?

  3. OK youngsters. Here's the deal with old age. I'm not sure why this just appeared in my blogroll being a week late, but then that's happened in the past too. Here's the answers to your questions. First let me establish my credentials. In October last year I became the one to live the longest in my family. My brother died in December 2012 at the age of 72 years and one month.
    Middle age spread. It's an eternal fight. Enough said.
    Gray hair comes with age. The one's on your chin are there to annoy you.
    Cookie after dinner, you might need some stomach meds. I take them, but then I eat an ice cream bar after dinner.
    Asleep at 8:30 is enough to to keep you awake when you go to bed at 10:00. Like a power nap.
    Money for retirement. My 50 year old son asked me just the other day. How much $$ do I need for retirement (just like your question). You never have enough no matter how much you have. Save your little heart out.
    Finally, cat food......tastes like shit.
    OK Kelly my friend, That's it from a 73 year old (in August) Geezer.
    By the way, retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. I've been working harder that when I had a real job.