My mother never talked about her health, even during the last three years of her life when it was bad. She was in the Marine Corps during World War II, and supervised other women for part of that time. When they'd say they had cramps and couldn't march, she had no sympathy. "You enlisted saying you were healthy." She must never have had cramps.
When she lived in the assisted living place she didn't like to go to the dining room for her meals. "I don't want to be around sick people who need walkers and drool at the table." So she'd have some meals in her room instead, paying for the extra service. When she needed a walker she still didn't like to be around people with walkers.
When we'd ask her how she was, she'd say, "Oh, I'm hanging in there." Even when she was bedridden during her last illness. She said, "Nobody wants to hear about other people's ailments."
For the most part, I agree with her. But as I get older and acquire my own set of age-related ailments, it's somehow comforting to me to know I'm not alone. Like recently I've had problems with my eyes - the start of cataracts, a vitreous detachment and dry eye syndrome. When I noticed these symptoms, one by one, they were scary. I thought the fuzzy vision that my glasses didn't correct, and the flashes of light, and the irritated eyes, were unique to me. When I saw the doc for them, and did the reading, I realized all these things are very common as we get older. For some reason, that made me feel better.
I'm retiring in 71 more work days, and I intend to live a full, interesting life afterwards. And knowing that other post-work people may share my eye issues is comforting. We're all in this together, I know; I'm part of the community of the older and wiser. If I could choose my favorite age, what I am now - 61 - would be close to the top. And if this favorite age is accompanied by physical changes, I'll try to be a good sport about it.
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