I just turned seventy. Yup, seventy years old, and the word is old. It’s funny, I never thought about being seventy. The first big birthday I remember was when I turned thirteen. I was finally a teenager. That was big. Then there was twenty-one. I was an adult. Then came thirty, still not bad. Forty was okay, too. I was always the youngest in my group, so everyone got there before me. When I was forty, I was still going strong. By the time I was fifty, I had grandchildren. They were so beautiful. I love every minute of being Nana.
I was struggling with my wardrobe though. That wasn’t fun. Some kind of shift was going on. I chose to wear loose fitting, soft materials with deeper tones, compared to slim fitting, sexy-ish, colorful pieces that I gravitated to when I was younger, slimmer. I hated that, but that’s what happened as I traveled the rocky road of aging. Then sixty came. Sixty years old was beginning to sound – well – old.
Around sixty-five something happened; the signs of aging were apparent, and I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there. A little sag here and a weight shift there. I couldn’t get a job in my field, and I was too experienced for entry level. I had to look outside the box. You could say, I had to live outside the box.
Well, here I am, five years later, and I’ve adjusted. I’m healthy, even though I have the occasional backache or shoulder ache. I have to be careful of what I eat because the pounds come on easily, and I’m not a very good dieter.
In this seventieth year, sleep often eludes me. Who would have thought that sleep would be work, but it is. In my wakeful state I think about my life, every phase, good and not so good. Life can’t be rewritten, but today is ours. We can choose to play.
I have a secret that I would like to share. It’s something only those of us who are blessed with the gift of age know.
What I have discovered through my seventy years on this planet is that life is just play. When I was a child play came to me as naturally as my heartbeat. The sky and earth belonged to the day and every day belonged to play.
For most of us play gets lost; lost in the demands and necessities of daily living, lost in the birthdays that mark our movement through life. It occasionally visits, but the relationship changes. We grow up, move away, and don’t miss our old friend play. We are working to make a living, raise our children, and take care of family responsibilities. Play waits patiently.
A long, slow breath held back the tears of my first disappointment, my first sense that I was not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough. I became accustom to disappointment, but I learned to make a smile part of my life costume. Play was but forgotten.
Seventy years have come and gone. The sun rises, a new day awakens, and my eyes open to the wonder of the early morning hours. Today I choose to play. Today I know I am enough. I am enough daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother, and friend. I can laugh, and cry, and play with abandon. I have returned to my old friend play and it has embraced me bringing gifts. The child that still lives in me remembers how to play, how to connect to the joy of life. It took time, tears, and years, but the journey was worth it.
As part of today’s play I stand before the mirror wondering how the reflection could be right. It looks like my face, but softer with friendly lines and thinner lips. I blink. Yes, my vision is softer, too. Nothing in life is as clear-cut as it was once. Lines blur and colors dance. And, oh, the body! It’s somehow round where it once was flat and flat where it was once round. My breasts once firm and high are now soft and relaxed. And what happened to my eyebrows? It seems what’s left of them have a mind of their own.
The softer, rounder and more relaxed me plays with life and life returns the favor. And still, just when I think I’ve played as a master would, life laughs and sends me still another challenge with which I must learn to play. But play I do. Yup, I’m 70 and I have chosen to engage the rest of my life with a wink and a wiggle, and a plan to be playing all the way to the finally!