Dropping Like Flies

At age fifty, I decided sixty was my limit. Why grow old and face a decaying body if you can die young? Reason enough to jump out of an airplane just before the big 6-0. But wouldn’t you know it—I survived.

Now, I’m coming up on seventy. Yes, my body is deteriorating, but it’s more about the deaths happening around me that make me consider my mortality, the loss of people within the periphery of my life. Landy, age 40; JC, age 98; Gary, age 75; Tim, age 49; Geneva, age 88. They’re dropping like flies, life expectancy not always a predictor of longevity. Of course, there’s no comparison to the tremendous loss of life in war zones around the world. But these deaths, all within a few weeks, impact me personally, making me aware that life is, indeed, fleeting. Why, I could go tomorrow….

So, I’m nearly seventy on the outside, but inwardly, closer to forty. Sure, I’ve lost some flexibility and even my five-year-old grandson has noted the hand tremors I try to ignore, but I can walk a good three miles at a brisk pace, do thirty pushups, pump some iron, and finish my workout with a round of Pilates. 

What has surviving to an advanced age offered me?

I worry less and pray more; I accept the fact that God is in control and I’m not God.

I no longer bear the responsibility for young lives. My children carry that burden for my grandkids. It’s up to me to simply love them. And bake lots of cookies.

I volunteer more of my time, not needing to make money to pay for boarding a horse, purchasing sports equipment, or buying a car for a new driver. 

I’ve stopped using hair coloring and makeup. Going natural feels…well, natural. I guess you could say I’m comfortable in my skin (and hair).

I now have more scars than I imagined possible, starting at age 5 when I ran headfirst into a parked car. (Thankfully, with age comes wisdom.) And then to grownup years when I’ve chosen to be scarred in battling breast and skin cancer. There’s nothing quite like having a bright red skin graft on the tip of your nose. Santa’s reindeer have nothing on me.

Speaking of the skin graft. Is that why people now say, “age before beauty,” when they motion me to go ahead? There was a time was considered the beauty. Ah, well, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Right?

My husband and I have managed two years with one car, quite a feat for independent us. But maybe that indicates we don’t get out enough. Most of our going and doing revolves around grandkids and church, but we could do more. Montana is rife with ghost towns of defunct mining and forestry settlements, all of which fascinate me. I especially like wandering around old cemeteries, reading the epitaphs, and speculating about the lives represented. All those earlier flies that dropped.

At some point, I’ll be next. I can only hope they sing I’ll Fly Away at my memorial service.

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