Wednesday February 27, 2013
Belt up for the journey ahead
I LOOK into the mirror and a face stares back at me. I can see the droopy eyelids, the sagging cheeks, the lines on the forehead, the elongated teeth, the white roots of hair which have been coloured red. I am not alarmed. I saw that face years ago.
I have more than half a century of history behind me. This history comes with crumpled skin, spider veins in my legs and a spectrum of other anatomical deficits aggravated by gravity. It comes with lumps and flabs that are impossible to shake off. It comes with chapter upon chapter of personal stories too sacred to be told.
Everywhere I turn, I am reminded of my age. Even the clear blue sky reminds me of my age. One morning I was reading a book in the balcony, and at one point I turned to look at the sky. And what did I see? Floaters. Floaters are those tiny spots and cobwebs that you see when you look at something pale or bright. Yeah, that one comes with age, too.
I didn’t know ageing could be so painful. There are mornings when I get up, and the first thing that crosses my mind is: “My shoulder! My shoulder!” or “My knees! My knees!” or “My hip! My hip!” These painful parts of my body scream for my attention as I slowly raise myself off the bed and limp to the bathroom. I know the pain comes from a lifetime of inactivity.
I really have to push myself into doing some physical activity before my pain gets worse.
I dream of nights when I can have a straight eight-hour sleep. I guess that will remain a dream.
That phase of my life has passed, along with my ability to run down the staircase, remember things without having to jot them down, or complete a sentence without struggling to find the right word to say although it is just at the tip of my tongue.
I live in a spacious single-storey house in a small town. The children are all grown up, and they live hundreds of miles away. There are days when I am alone in the house, and I hear someone calling me “Ma!” I turn around in surprise, but it is just my imagination. I guess being a bit cuckoo comes with age, too.
The days when the house ran riot with children and deafening music boomed from every room, are now behind me. Gone are the days when clothes, books, school bags and shoes littered the house, as though a hurricane had just passed through.
The clothesline looks forlornly empty these days. It used to be a parade of multicoloured articles of clothing; some days I had to add extra lines to cater for the extra washes.
Now the house is quiet; all I hear is the honking of geese from the neighbour’s house, the birds chirping in the trees and the occasional roar of a car passing by.
In fact, the house looks like a showroom. The bric-a- brac on the side table are undisturbed, the books on the coffee table are untouched, the floor is clear of clutter. Everything is where it should be because no one is there to move it.
I look around me. I see the happy family pictures, I see the dining table where the children used to fill up all the chairs, I see the staircase where one of the children had fallen down, I look at the piano and I can almost hear someone playing an off-key Ballade pour Adeline.
I smile to myself. How lucky can one get? I have a comfortable house, a wonderful husband, beautiful and caring children.
Except for the occasional joint aches, I have good health, and my brain is still functioning reasonably well. If I don’t scutinise myself too much in the mirror, I am quite happy with my looks.
So yeah, I can deal with growing old. Mankind has aged since the time of Adam and Eve. There is nothing new about it, but for me, I am doing it for the first time. So I am going to fasten my seat belt, and prepare myself for the journey ahead.