It's not going to happen.
I assumed I would age gracefully. I would become one of those remarkable older women whose wrinkles showed up as the subtle tracings of character. Some graying would be inevitable, of course, but it would manifest itself as highlights. Nothing dingy.
I would never bore anyone whining about my ailments and I would be an active, attractive older woman. I had never been much of a hiker or even a walker, never been in a gym or stuck with an aerobics class for more than three weeks, but I would become an example of health and well-being for my grandchildren.
My husband would adore me and the sex would stay steamy. We would never say, "Can we do this tomorrow? Doctors would marvel at the elasticity of my tip top vagina. "Once a day and twice on Sunday," I would smugly tell the youngsters. "That's the secret to a healthy, happy life."
So, now I am fifty plus and I can see that it's not going to be so simple. I have arthritis already, the result of nasty accidents in my twenties. That's one thing I have discovered. Your fifties is when you start paying for the injuries of youth. Old rugby players like my husband pay dearly. Massage oil? Oh yeah, there's plenty of that in our bedroom.
But I am flexible. If fitness through jogging is not going to be, I would buy a bike. Well, that 's been a trip.
I've gone out three times and fallen off the damn thing three times. I seem to be okay on the balancing and I understand the principles of riding but I've never had gears before and I always seem to be in the wrong one. I tried to start off last night in 1 & 1 because my son (an extreme rider) told me to be in low gear when I took off. I could hear his friends hooting in the background when I called.
“Your Mom doesn’t know how to change gears? No way.”
But 1 & 1 is what you use when you are climbing hills and there is no traction for taking off. So there I was, trying to push off with my left foot, pushed the right pedal down with the other foot and of course it just bottomed out and for a few brief moments I hung there, perfectly balanced.
Then, like an actor in a stupid Monty Python movie, I just fell flat over with a huge THUNK. One good thing about all this is that I have gotten over my fear of falling. I now know that I can fall over and it is okay. I get back up again. Sure, the traffic stopped so everyone could gawk and an old man on a walker had to get the bike untangled from my feet, my knee was bleeding and my elbow had all this gravel stuck in it, but no bones were broken.
Still, it had been enough for me so I turned the bike around and was walking it home. My neighbour, who’d been leaning on her rake watching all this, came over.
“Yes, yes ....time to stop this nonsense. Gardening and watching the grandbabies. Yah, that’s what we’re good for now,” she clucked.
I turned the bike around and headed back up the street and this time I got the gears right and I did not fall off.
Aging gracefully? It's not going to happen. I expect to be the spectacle of the neighbourhood, at least until I get this gear thing mastered. After that, who knows. One of my kids is a ski patroller. He gets paid for patching up what he and his buddies call “greys on trays”. He assures me that if I show up with a snowboard he’ll put the whole crew on alert and I’ll get first class service from the medics.
No, I don’t have a death wish. It’s more that I have a life wish. I want to try it all and taste it all before I do die. At fifty-three it is occurring to me that the window of opportunity on some of these experiences is closing. I’ll be squeezing in a few more before it does. Graceful? Not a chance. Alive? Till I die.