‘Booba, what’s wrong with your back?’
My very tactile 9 year old grand-daughter had climbed into the snug space between the chair back and my back, as she likes to do, when she asked me this.
She put her hand on my upper back, near the nape.
‘Why is it like that?’
‘Like’- she nimbly wriggled out from behind me and stood so I could see her, and then hunched her shoulders and stuck her chin forward- ‘that.’
My ‘rounded shoulders’.
My delightfully named ‘dowager’s hump’.
About 5 years ago, ever the observant one, she pointed to my arms and said:
‘Booba, what’s that?’
‘What’s what? My arms?’
‘Yes your arms! They’re so – squishy!’
Quick inspection and shake of upper arms. Correct assessment. Squish factor high. And wobble also.
‘Well, umm, that’s what happens when you are a booba. You …grow…wings! Because, because…boobas can FLY!’
‘Well…not really…not yet... Hey, look at that pretty princess in that book! How about I read you a story!’
But for a year or so after that, she kept poking my upper arms – through my sleeves and all- and asking when I would fly.
Right now, as I sit here at the keyboard, my right knee hurts, and my thumb joints hurt and my left hip hurt so much all day that I had to give in and take some ibuprofen. And I have recently recovered from a nasty tendinitis of my right wrist. My tummy’s gurgling and I have heartburn. I just had all the kids and grandchildren over for dinner and I did a barbecue, and that kind of food does me no favours. Not to mention the effect of the ibuprofen. Please, Gd, no reflux tonight, OK? I’ll take a Pariet if I have to.
The hip thing. I’ve been to my massage therapist, and an osteopath, and I do stretches, and it comes and goes. It affects my gait at times, and my 79-year-old Mother-in-law has pointed out, correctly, that I walk like an old woman! She, of course, does not.
One area of my gum is swollen, and when I brush my (yellowed) teeth like crazy, or press on it with my finger, there is an icky taste. Despite my regular visits to dentist and periodontist. And no doubt, along with the icky taste is an icky smell. An old person smell. But one can’t smell oneself, so I’m just making an educated guess.
I don’t want to talk about my lady bits, and what my father would have called ‘women’s trouble’. But there’s trouble.
I am 59.
When my mother was my age, she walked with a stick and she had an upper denture. And a pronounced dowager’s hump. She was OLD.
When my grandmother was my age, she had been dead for 4 years. I never knew her.
It seems that the women in my maternal line don’t age well.
As for my paternal line- who knows, most were murdered by the Nazis. My dad was kind of sprightly until his late 70’s and then went downhill with a whoosh.
But I’m a Baby Boomer! We’re supposed to stay young forever!
When did this all start happening?!
About 15 years ago I went to a dermatologist with one of my kids and while I was there, I pointed to my right upper eyelid which had gone a bit crinkly, and asked, what’s going on here? I just noticed this a few days ago, like, what’s up with that? And the doctor laughed in my face. He thought I was joking about the effects of age on my skin, as if it was a joking matter.
And that’s what it was, ageing skin. And I look after my skin, you should know. I use sunscreen, and have ever since it was invented, which was actually too late for me because I was in my late teens by then, and had had a few decent sunburns. But I don’t give up easily; I use sunscreen every day. That’s probably why I’m low in Vitamin D. So I take supplements.
And I swim, and I do water aerobics, and I have a personal trainer and I lift weights.
But in spite of Pilates past, and yoga, and zumba, and bellydancing, I have an old lady hump and old lady joints and old lady breath and wrinkly eyes and wobbly bits. And the wings: Sorry, dear grand-daughter, I was kidding; they can’t fly me anywhere. They just kind of flap and wobble, despite all the laps in the pool and the weights in gym.
It’s not fair. It’s excruciating.
But at least I’m still here to complain about it all. And it only gets worse! Great!
I conclude with the immortal words of Paul Newman: ‘Getting old ain’t for sissies.’
I'll try not to be such a sissy then.