Last week when we were discussing age-related hair loss in women, I was reminded that getting old is just one damned thing after another. I don’t mean diseases or conditions that need ongoing medical attention, but the less serious changes that nevertheless impede our once carefree daily lives.
Remember when we were young (and throughout most of our adult years) when we could roll out of bed, throw on some clothes and know that everything was in such good working order that we hardly thought about them?
Now, most of what we took for granted about our bodies needs to be replaced, attended to or accepted as gone forever. My personal checklist:
Here one day, gone the next. Wigs, scarves, hats or a combination thereof will play a strong role in my future.
I already have an upper denture and the lower teeth need constant extra attention.
My ability to smell much of anything disappeared years ago. Except, weirdly, for cantaloupe which my nose can detect from across a football field.
No replacements, but they creak a bit when I’ve been in one position too long.
No mechanical aids needed yet, but it is impossible to hear someone speaking next to me when there is a lot of ambient noise.
I’ve been diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. They are not far gone enough yet for surgery.
Sometimes all these changes make me sad because there really is no way to interpret them except as indications of life’s decline. I could dwell on that or, since there is nothing I can do about it, I can adjust and keep going while trying not to resent the additional time and effort involved in upkeep. Which is what I choose.
With that in mind, here is a Peggy Lee song I’ve been listening to since 1975, when it was released on her “Mirrors” album. Ready to Begin Again neatly sums up these late-life developments, gives me a laugh of recognition and the heart to carry on. Lyrics are appended below the video.
When my teeth are at rest in the glass by my bed,
and my hair lies somewhere in a drawer,
then the world doesn’t seem like a very nice place,
not a very nice place anymore.
But I take out my teeth from the glass by my bed
and my hair from a drawer in the hall,
Still the world doesn’t seem like a very nice place
not a very nice place at all.
But I put in my teeth and I put on my hair
and a strange thing occurs when I do.
For my teeth start to feel like my very own teeth
and my hair like my very own too.
And I’m ready to begin again.
Ready to begin again.
I’m reaching for the soap,
my heart is full of hope – again, again.
I’m ready to begin again
Feeling like I’ve just begun
Now I’m not afraid to raise the window shade
And face the sun.
I put on my bracelets and brooches
My rings and my pearls and my pins
And as the new day approaches
As the new day begins
I’m ready to begin again
Looking fresh and bright I trust.
Ready to begin again,
as everybody must.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Sacred Places