I woke one day with my grandmother’s hands. The backs of my hands, once soft and smooth, were suddenly filled with veins that looked like a 3D road map and skin I could pinch into tiny flesh-colored tents.
Now the pads of my fingers are perpetually puckered like the aftermath of a two-hour bubble bath and my palms have waaaay too many lines for a fortune teller to read in one sitting.
It bothers me. Not so much because people will see them and think I’m old. I’ve always hoped I would age gracefully.
It bothers me because I have suddenly realized two things. The first is, I’m still me – the original me – inside this contrary body. In here, I am about 25 years old in appearance, about 35 in my maturity level (I still giggle at bad puns) and about 45 in experience.
When you are addressing my beginning-to-sag face, you assume you are talking to a 57-year-old woman. You only think you are.
The second realization is that my time on this earth is limited. Of course, I’ve always been aware of this fact, especially because my mother died at the young age of 46, but now I think about it almost daily. Perhaps it’s timing – I’m on the other side of menopause. I am 11 years older than my mom was when she died and 11 years younger than my father was when he died.
Perhaps it’s because the changes in my mind and body are no longer “cute” ones, like laugh lines and mild forgetfulness, but are as obvious as rings on a tree.
Mostly, I am surprised to find myself here. I’ve had a long, wonderful career and hope to write for many more years. I raised a beautiful, happy, successful daughter who’s now married. I have an amazing husband with whom I share so much laughter.
As a general rule, I am a silver-linings, blessings-counted kinda girl. On a daily basis, I am upbeat and happy but, at night, sometimes I wonder how much time is left. I’ve taken out enough life insurance to ensure I leave no debts. I’ve written letters to loved ones marked “Do Not Open ’Til I’m Gone.”
How did I get here?
I suspect I am in one of life’s many short phases, only this is one that comes with heavy-duty thoughts. I suspect, and hope, that these thoughts on aging will change again and I will feel as energetic as those 60-ish couples in those Jitterbug commercials, able to celebrate my life experiences and anticipate the coming years.
Who knows how many there will be? All the more reason to find the silver linings and count the blessings.