What’s in a Word?

Any time I mention even the slightest pain or deviation from my former self, more and more I’m hearing , “Well, you know, it’s age-related.” I suspect that means “age-ing related” as in “You’re getting old, lady” and its unstated corollary, “so just live with it!”

I have, I do. For years, I’ve been ignoring sagging eyes and rusty knees, enduring the deterioration in between as my body slides south and widens east to west. From tingling fingers to a stiff neck, from a brittle lower back to unexplained shin splints… I hurt. But I also cope: I chastise myself for being vain, count my blessings, empathize with friends who have true medical traumas, and continue my donations to cancer drives, heart research, Easter seals.

Although “growing old ain’t for sissies,” what I can do is recognize the advantages as well as the aches and wrinkles that the years can bring. I am not only older but also wiser, having learned and earned along the way. I speak French and financial. I’ve mastered kick-boxing and making gravy. Friends marvel at my string of sunny successes and funny failures. “The only thing I haven’t done,” I joke, “is brain surgery! Maybe there’s still time.” In fact, by now, I’m so super experienced that I’ve made a new career of sharing my hard-won expertise. I’m still The Money Lady, as well as a writer, speaker and “coach.”

Blessed with good genes and a positive attitude, I know I’m lucky. Still, I help luck along: I exercise, eat my veggies, lean toward fish, and (most of the time) drive carefully. Life is good, and mine, from family to finances, is especially rewarding. At this stage in my life, I’m content to enjoy the passing parade and relieved that I no longer have to man the barricades. It’s fun to see my children catching up to me. “That’s a good idea, Mom,” I hear with increasing frequency. And I see them exemplifying many of my values along with a few of my more endearing vices. By the time your children become your friends, you may be  old—but these new relationships feel a lot better than a facelift!

As I read obituaries suggesting that even I will not live forever, I indeed wince. Silently, I beseech the powers-that-be to stop the stampede and slow the process. I’ll go . . . just … at my own pace, grandly, graciously. Until then, when I hear the term “age-related,” inwardly I’ll translate it to mean “ageless”—which, I hope, more accurately describes the real me.

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