As I age, I find myself in a constant tug-of-war between two contrary emotions — mourning and lust.
The mourning is a predictable state. I miss the many loved ones who have passed. Parents, siblings, grandparents and a surprising (alarming, distressing) number of friends who died young.
Now, at 69, I find — predictably, of course — the pace of friends dying has accelerated. Still, one recent sleepless night I “googled” old friends and former colleagues. Big mistake. The first three names I searched revealed not new jobs, new spouses or grandchildren, but their obituaries. And by today’s standards, the trio was not even “old” or, at least, “that” old.
I recently celebrated my birthday. My husband, children, family and friends filled my day with love, cards, presents, calls, texts and Facebook messages. Yet, for all the joy, I was sad. I missed my parents and my oldest brother. I missed the taste of my mother’s amazing chocolate cake and oh, that creamy killer chocolate icing. I played a birthday voice message from my brother saved from more than a decade ago, his voice ragged and ravaged from thyroid cancer surgery. Usually, memories of past gatherings provide comfort. This year, not so much.
As for my “lustful” state, that is a much happier tale! I desire so much as I age — food, adventures, books, theater, travel, more learning, continued good health, improved physical health and fitness, and, yes, for more time with my delightful husband.
In fact, I find myself insatiable these days. I’ve just returned from a trip to NYC where I jammed in eight shows in five days. That’s a new personal best for theater-holic me.
In-between matinees and evening performances, I managed to visit with my beloved niece, four close friends, get to five museum exhibits and gorged on pastrami, the best of Big Apple pizza and Cuban food.
Still, it was mostly about the marathon eight-show-a-palozza — excessive and exhilarating. And I confess, if my schedule had permitted, I would have stayed longer to catch another show that had just opened. Greedy? You bet!
And even before the plane had taken off for home, I was ordering tickets for my next trip to NYC scheduled two months hence. I mean, what’s a lustful Broadway Baby to do?
It’s not just theater I’ve got an itch for. My husband and I are already planning my big 70th birthday celebration — a trip to the Netherlands, Spain and Morocco.
I must confess those three obituaries I mentioned earlier weigh on my mind. They are a harsh reminder to be grateful — grateful not only for my own good health but also for my husband’s.
One of the three people who died was the first “boy” I loved. We were engaged. It didn’t work out. He was lovely. I was immature. Selfish. I treated him horribly. When I read of his passing, I felt not only sadness but guilt. And as I read of his life, I had a strange thought. If we had married, I would now be a widow. That realization makes me cherish every moment with my amazing husband even more than usual.
This appreciation of our good health (and happiness) has led to another late-in-life mania. Slothful me has become an exercise buff! Aside from being a devoted New York City walker — which I can do for miles on end, I never was one to get up and go. Never one to work up a sweat. Now, however, I drag myself to the gym at least four times a week, usually five times. I huff and puff a lot but I’ll be damned if I’m going to develop brittle bones.
So, Old Age, obviously I am not a fan, but still, you are definitely better than the alternative — as the silly saying goes. I may have more aches and pains than I like. I certainly have more wrinkles than I like, but I’m ready, even lusting for more life.
And to my friends, I say this: Please don’t “google” my name. Just call or write with any questions. I’m still around!