Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 1999

MARY ANN FITZMORRIS / L’Observateur / December 11, 1999

Good grief! How did this happen? I turn 45 this week. I’ve checkedthe numbers to make sure they’re right, and I know it’s true. All my life,I’ve imagined what age I’d be when we changed the century, and that’s here, too. So, it’s official; I’m really 45.I thought the angst I endured by turning 40 had at least a 10-year warranty, but here I am only five years later, mortified by this new milestone.

At least no one has begun to refer to me as “young at heart.” That’s thepolite way to describe people who are immature but old. As a child, they’rejust immature, and their parents are embarrassed about it. As a teen,they’re still immature, but now they’re embarrassed about it. As an adult,they’re pleased to shock people with their age. Then comes the moment thephrase “young at heart” comes out. That means you’re downright oldeverywhere else.

For immature aging boomers like myself, this fact is constantly presenting itself in the cruelest way. Just last weekend the kids and Ifound a tall hill at a park, and they decided to try a trick they saw recently in a movie. (It always works better in the movie.)We grabbed a box from the car and made a makeshift snowboard, where they practiced “surfing” this hill. I was coaching them, and at a certainpoint it became necessary for me to show them the angle at which you must lean into the hill. It worked too well, and I hit the ground with aloud, painful thud. Last year at this time I was nursing cracked ribs from aroller skating fall. I fared much better in last week’s tumble, because myhips are padded so much better.

Padding becomes an increasing problem with age. Recently I read that themetabolism of a person my age is one-third of what it was 20 years ago.

This explains why I can eat nothing but the crumbs my kids drop and the scale doesn’t budge. I call this a dieting victory now, because at leastthat scale isn’t inching it’s way up. My absolute “please-don’t-wake-me-up” dream weight is one that made me cringe in horror 20 years ago.

But 20 years is a long time, and a person can stuff a whole lot of life into such a span. Back then I was still hiking the Grand Canyon. I’ve hadtwo careers and one husband in that space of twenty years.

Some people fill 20 years with less careers and more spouses, but I’m convinced that gives you extra wrinkles. Some people fill 20 years withnothing. This I don’t recommend at all. So much to see! So much to learn!So much to give! That Nike commercial comes to mind: JUST DO IT! I’m still doing it, and the creepy realization that there is more sand in the bottom of my lifeglass than the top makes me want to move faster, but I can’t. Besides, it’s harder to remember what it is I need to do.I’d love to cite some of those articles I keep reading about how young, vibrant and clear the mind can remain as you age, but I can’t remember any of the details. Forget those details. I can’t remember what day it is halfthe time. I can’t remember that I promised to remove my daughter’sfingernail polish two minutes ago, or that my son has been out of for three weeks. I can’t even remember what I just said. (Nevermind; it wasn’t important.) I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about that. We’re all suffering the samefate. (As I was typing this, I noticed that I left out the “e” on fate.Must have been a Freudian slip, but it does apply. We’re all suffering thesame fat, too.)But I think I remember I was talking about memory, and I have good news about that. There are definitely ways to improve memory. My husband is agood example. Why, just a few years ago, when my beloved spouse was myage, he didn’t even remember my birthday! He’s been completely cured of that.

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