Growing Old Is Not For Sissies
My late mother, suffering a little during her last few years on earth, used to say: “Growing old is not for sissies” and now that I’m also growing older I keep on thinking about it.
But I was completely unprepared for the incredibly funny article by Roseanne Barr on the Joys of Menopause [click here]. It is rolling-on-the-floor stuff.
What makes it particularly funny is that I am dealing with some very difficult people in my life. People who by their very nature believe that they are right, that they never make mistakes, that they will never grow old, that they can do what they want, hurt who they want.
Roseanne starts by quoting Mike Krumboltz who said that Madonna (the material girl) is 53 and quips: “But don’t worry–she still isn’t acting her age.” And then she says the most awesome thing: “When first I read the above paragraph, I thought that maybe I had changed in a very profound way, because I found myself feeling sorry for Madonna, rather than judgmental and resentful. I also was not ready to pull off the head of the author of this trite journalistic piece and shit down his neck. I had mellowed, I realized. Menopause had indeed made me into a nicer person.”
With that sentence Roseanne captured the very essence of my life at the moment. I know that I was arrogant and dismissive of other people when I didn’t like them during my 40s and 50s. I could simply not be bothered. My own needs were more important.
But now that I am older and in a better place and I am surrounded by friends and family who love me, it is very different. Roseanne is so funny when she writes: “She will not like it when her body, which has always been part of her art, gets a mind of its own and takes over her tightly knit daily shedule, as the posh pronounce it. But, girl, don’t even sweat it—if you can help not sweating during the “Pause.” Most likely, as your vaginal walls recede and become paper thin, rendering your sexual passage dry as a bone, and while gravitational pull moves your once jaunty pockets of stored fat ever downward into your ankles and feet, making them really puffy, the sweating will add the coup de grâce to the whole mess, rendering you wet where you used to be dry and dry where you used to be wet. After a little while, the blessed memory lapses will make it so that you will hardly remember what was wet, …”
Roseanne says the watershed happens at 53 – a few more years to go for some people. But it is never too late to start making amends for your nastiness, your arrogance, your self-righteousness. Sooner is better of course. Roseanne ends by saying:
I think [she] will one day say the same about herself, if she makes it through the rough waters that lie ahead of her, those premenopausal years—the last chance one has to avoid the realization that sooner, not later, life will even the score, and it will go against you.
Yes, Karma. As you sow, so you shall reap.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to make peace with the people I hurt and it is a wonderful feeling of relief. I think that sometimes an article is sent our way to confirm that we are doing the right things, that we are on the right road. Its like I always call it: Traffic signs next to the road guiding us [click here], but never forcing us.
I want to grow old knowing that I made peace with the people I wronged; That I paid my debts; I want to know that I sometimes went off the road but that I managed to somehow get back. It going to be hard to grow old – I don’t want to carry too much baggage.