Sunday, October 5, 2014

I Fall to Pieces by Alison Henderson

The title of one of my favorite songs by the immortal Patsy Cline, "I Fall to Pieces", perfectly expresses my present condition. Tomorrow is my birthday, and it's a big one. Sixty. I can hardly believe it. I'm almost afraid to say it out loud. Any celebration will be very low key.

I know. I know. I still have my health. The alternative is worse. Yada, yada, yada. To any of you who have passed this milestone, congratulations. You're a role model. To those of you who haven't, it's big and scary. I wish you the best.

No previous birthday affected me like this one. Not thirty, not forty, not fifty. I've had friends who bemoaned each of those, but not me. I looked reasonably young, still had plenty of energy and lots to look forward to. Now things have changed.

Sixty means facing facts. I exercise every day, yet I still tire more easily than I used to. Nagging little health issues pop up with greater frequency. Menopause has stolen every single collagen cell I possessed. Everything has started to sag, and there's no going back. I'm not vain enough to consider plastic surgery, but every now and then an ugly little voice in my ear tempts me.

And all that business about facing mortality is real. My husband had a stroke last spring at sixty-four. Thank God, he had no lasting effects, but we both know the outcome could have been very different. It's changed the way we think and live. We now know anything can happen at any time. Younger people shrug off mortality with an "I could be hit by a bus tomorrow" attitude, but you know they don't believe it. We believe it.

The upside is that we treat each other with more kindness. We take gentler care of each other. We're a stronger team because each of us is a bit less than we used to be. We still have things we want to do, places we want to go, experiences we want to share. With luck, we'll get around to most of them. We might have many more decades together, but life doesn't come with guarantees. I understand that now more deeply than ever before.

Cliches become cliches for a reason. You really do have to appreciate what you have while you have it and make every day count.



Jannine Gallant said...

I hit 50 a couple of years ago, and I'll admit it made me feel...middle aged at best and old at worst. Sounds like you're approaching your milestone with the right attitude and making the most of each day!

Liz Flaherty said...

I will say--I'm 64--that once I got PAST the big 6-0, it became easy. I accepted that time goes ridiculously fast now and got serious about enjoying every minute of it. I don't LIKE it all (ask me about hip pain), but the point is having a good time, not expecting everything to be your way.

Happy birthday, Alison!

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, I'm working on that attitude every day.

Liz, I knew I could count on you for some words of wisdom. You are so right about how ridiculously fast time passes now. I'm shocked every week!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Late getting here - sorry. Happy birthday and welcome! I'll say it too. I'm 65. Though the aches and pains are there for sure, we also have the freedom (and wisdom) to enjoy life - on our terms!

Romance Can Be Murder said...

Happy birthday! Beautiful blog. I hit that big 6-0 two years ago and it was a shock - I suddenly felt OLD. How could that be? It was also combined with serious illness of my DH, which left us with an awful sense of insecurity for a while. You understand the concept of mortality on an intellectual level, but it's not nice when the reality knocks at your door :-( I wish you and your DH many more years of happiness, health, and the achievement of personal goals :-)

Alicia Dean said...

I have yet to reach that milestone, but it's close. None of my milestones have really bothered me, but I might be like you and 60 might be rough. Keep the good attitude, and the cliches, because yes, they are cliches for a reason. (Although, 'You're only as old as you feel' isn't all that accurate, because I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be 53, but alas, I am) Happy BD!

Alison Henderson said...

Margo - Freedom and wisdom sound good to me!

Glenys - It sounds like you've been exactly where I am. It's nice when someone understands. Thanks for the kind wishes.

Alicia - I NEVER feel like I should be 60, but my mother called me this morning to wish me a happy 60th. I figure she should know.

Diane Burton said...

None of my milestone birthdays bothered me until last year's. But, as you & my father-in-law say, it beats the alternative. Hope you had a good birthday, Alison.

Donna Michaels said...

Happy belated birthday, Alison! They say 60's the new 40. I hope you prove that right!