Lines of Age
By Elin Stebbins Waldal on May 11, 2011
Lines…there are picket lines, fence lines, lines to wait in, lines to pull, lines to cross and lines to walk. And yes there are also…lines of age. Age lines are covered with foundation, soaked with moisturizer, erased via injection, surgeries, and in short are the recipients of countless dollars spent. Preserving youth…preserving is in fact a way of halting time…what really does it look like when time halts?
The images of my husband Jimmy’s parents flash before my eyes. His dad was 48 when he died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. We never met, I’m guessing he’d cash in a few wrinkles to have skipped ALS and a life cut short. He missed all his kids graduate from college, get married, and have their children. He will forever be 48 therefore ageless in the many photographs that capture his incredible joy.
Jimmy’s mom, died in a car accident, she was 56…I guarantee she would take a face like Georgia O’Keefe for the privilege of loving her many grandchildren, her own children, their spouses, the sweet man she married years after Jimmy’s dad died, and her many friends.
Halting time means it is stopped, over, done.
My birthday month is in the rear view mirror… forty seven…like a little kid I count the years out-loud and yell “47!” to the empty house.
Before my birthday a friend asked me was I bugged by my birthday…
“How does it feel? I mean really 50 is in the headlights…does it bug you just a little?”
“Oh come on…it must bug you somewhat…”
“You know…when I turned 40 it was a bit surreal but now with 50 out there I feel really OK with it. I actually just feel like embracing the whole journey.”
“Right.” I knew he really didn’t believe me…(mental note to self: remind Jimmy how he is the best most loving man in the entire world and I am grateful daily that we bumped into each other, fell in love, and are now married for 15 plus years!)
But what I said to my friend was:
“Seriously? Consider the alternative, no birthdays?”
I won’t suffer in my aging, I just plain refuse. Don’t want to go there. I have had my years of self loathing over body image. I already fought that war…there were battles lost, but in more ways battles won. Age 47 has been fully celebrated, mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-cake eaten, presents opened and utilized, hugs and kisses happily received, cards read, phone messages heard, Facebook messages read,…I say thank you and bring it on.
The lines on my face mark the time…the fissures of these lines harbor the story of my living…the journey is quite thankfully still afoot and is made more complete by my messy past that, like a rainbow, stretches over my temporarily un-hunched shoulders.
I will take my friends the “crows’ feet” that share with the world the joie de vivre, and I will make peace with the lines caused from pursing my lips, even though they remain admittedly much less attractive then the lips of my youth. I am now way more forgiving of myself, and as I head toward the second semester of my life I simply feel grateful.
I will celebrate that I have a child that just turned 23 alongside my own 47, I will celebrate that his brother and sister are 14 and 12, I will celebrate that I married my best friend, I will celebrate family and friends, and I will celebrate the health we share today.
I am armed with great family, friends, and community. Of course there are also; moisturizers, tweezers, tubes of sun block, hair cuts with color, and great wines. With open arms I have stepped over the aging line and I’ll take every single birthday I can get…
Note: I wrote this post last year one month after my birthday...and with exactly one week left of year 47 I am struck by the fact that I feel exactly the same as I did then, if not more so. 47 was wonderful and as May 17Th draws near I am looking forward to my 48Th birthday, the Baskin-Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip Cake, and the celebration of this wonderful, and yes sometimes messy, life!
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