• Christine Merser

Me at Sixty


I am beginning to realize that I have passed the aging point of no return.


The first 15 minutes of any conversation I have with any friend in my age group starts off with talk of our ailments. Last night I had dinner with a friend who is in fabulous shape. She is turning 60 next week. She is tall and slender and solid, and her skin is fabulous. I don’t think she goes out in the sun.


“Well, you may be turning 60, but you look fabulous. We do not look 60, and that’s something. I remember my grandmother at 60, and she looked really old.”


“Well, I am not OK. I am going to a spin class on Sunday morning.”


“No, you cannot do that! Look, I know a woman who went to a spin class, and she broke both her legs. The bike got away from her, and the force of the wheels just snapped her legs right in half. She was in a wheelchair with her legs straight out in front of her in casts for weeks! I’m not kidding. Wait. Why do you need to do that? You look great!”


“Well, I can’t hop on one foot.”


This friend, unlike some of my other friends, doesn’t drink. I feel the need to tell you that right now. I’m sure you get it.


“Sue, why do you need to hop on one foot? Haven’t we got more pressing things to do, like get our hair dyed? That hopping on one foot really isn’t necessary.”


“I had water in my ear. The way you clear water in your ear is to hop on one foot.”


I gathered my thoughts for a minute.


“Is your ear still filled with water?”


“No.”


“OK, I think we can move on then. Get your nails done on Sunday. Go for a walk on the beach. But do not go to a spin class with 20-somethings whose thighs glisten as they go round and round, and their ponytail bounces because it’s not dried out and filled with Moroccanoil, which my hairdresser says I have to use if I am going to tell anyone she does my hair.” Pause. “Sue, are you with me?”


“I forgot what we were talking about.”


This brings me to the next problem: I have to write everything down. I am not kidding. Everything. If you talk to me about doing something, and you do not see me write it down, I refuse to be responsible for getting it done.


My beloved 80-something Aunt Molly and I talk on the phone when I’m in the car. I love my Aunt Molly, and I would do anything for her. Three times I promised her I would email her info on the particular model of iPad I wanted her to buy. Last week when we were on the phone, she mentioned she’d bought an iPad.


“Oh, that’s great! You should have had me choose the model.”


Silence.


Lastly, there is the fear that whatever my friends have, I have as well, only worse.

“God, I went to the doctor, and she said I have xliroues.”


“What are the symptoms?” I always ask right off the bat.


I have no idea what the disease is. I have no idea if my friend is in real trouble. But I have to know the symptoms first.


I recognize that all this is ridiculous. We even talk about how ridiculous it is.

“Can you believe all we talk about is what is falling apart?”


“I know, you would think we were old or something.”


Well, I am in my 59th year. Pretty soon I will have to check the box that reads “60+,” rather than “40–59.” Sue pointed out last night that the box should read, “60–Death.” She is right. We are in the final box on all forms.


Where did the time go? I’ve forgotten. But here’s the bottom line: I intend to make the last box my best. Productive. Entertaining. Engaging. I intend to laugh with my friends about our ailments. I intend to cry with them when those ailments are no longer funny. My intention is to make the best of what is to come, and frankly, I believe that those who I call my friends will be doing the same thing.


Thanks to each of them for the sharing that makes it all worth it.

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