Monday, January 3, 2011

O is for Old(er)

My young mother turned 69 a week ago today. I flew down to Arizona to join my sister in celebrating her birthday together. I got clocked at Scrabble (my younger sister won) and had fun reminiscing with our mother about old times when we all lived under the same roof with our hip Mommy and Daddy in the 60's and 70's.

My mother's 69 years compared with my father's 71 years on this earth are a contrast in aging. You would never guess my father's age by looking at or listening to him. Last summer he was climbing mountains in Montana with us. The only difference from when I was a little kid is that I can keep up with him now, only because he has finally slowed to a reasonable pace! He takes blood pressure meds and has to watch his cholesterol. But he's still thin and fit. He thinks he might retire some time this year.

My mother's blood pressure and cholesterol are fine, but she suffers from peripheral neuropathy and some other circulatory and nervous system complications due to hardening and plaque. She isn't very mobile any more and walks with a cane. She finds the world a less and less convenient place in her self-proclaimed old lady-hood.

I look at these two humans, from whom I gained my genetic material, and I think very hard about nurture vs. nature. My sister and I have always experienced very different medical developments, in spite of our shared genetic heritage. Much of our mother's afflictions are attributable to lifestyle choices. Our father's challenges seem to be more hereditary.


I prefer to age gradually and gracefully. And playfully. I hope it's not too late to change some of my less healthy lifestyle choices to embrace the good genes that I know lurk in my code somewhere. So when I turn down something offered that you know I love, please take no offense. I'm simply trying to prolong my life so that I might enjoy all my amazing family members and friends longer and with a positive attitude and fuller capacity for fun.

Skiing anyone?

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