I think today is the day.
You never know when certain days will become “marker” days and then when they show up you just know.
Today is the day I recognized I’m middle-aged.
I’m getting dressed – or I should say trying to figure out what to wear – to my friend from High School’s mom’s funeral that is happening in an hour.
I’ve got Cher’s disco song “Only the Lonely,” playing on my iPod and I am dancing in my hallway wrapped in a towel looking foolish after a shower and feeling silly, but I don’t care. You have to understand – I play music at home maybe three times a year (unless I have a dinner party ( two times a year)) so putting a Cher disco song on at 10:30 Saturday am is not my usual thing.
It’s December, I’m wearing boots and enjoying the feeling of dancing with no one but my two cats watching thinking life is just weird. I’m excited -not quite the right word- to be able to be here for D at the service today whether I get to speak to her or not. It meant so much to me when friends I hadn’t seen in years showed up at my mom’s funeral. In a way I’m also happy for D, of course, there is sorrow, plenty of sorrow, but also the relief of having a family member “pass” after being sick for a time. Those horrible caregiving years before death: the stress, mess, expense, toll on one’s heart. Growing old in poor mental or physical health is awful. No one else gets what it is genuinely like to deal with a sick parent until they go through it – then it’s a big aha.
“Now I know what this is; now I know what she meant; now I know what it feels like.”
And now I know what it feels like to see myself as middle-aged. I can’t zip up my black funeral dress; the zipper goes up only a third of my back. This is the dress I wore to my mom’s funeral, my uncle’s funeral, the dress I grab when I need to attend a funeral – it can no longer be that dress. Yes, it’s been eight years, but I didn’t expect my body to change so much. How did I ever wear this in the first place? The stretch cotton is pulled to its max to encompass me, the dress looks like a black latex sausage casing over my lower half. Not a pretty sight.
I know physically I have been changing, I can tell in the yoga I like to practice, slow and still, no flow or vinyasa for me right now, and definitely not in a heated room. My hormones are all over the place, it’s a challenge to love my body right now.
I pick another black dress- a more casual dress- I hope it is appropriate, made of some synthetic material, it doesn’t cling. I used to make fun of un-natural fibers, not today, bring on the Rayon! I look down at my boots. Is it appropriate to wear these to a funeral?
And then the question,
Is it age appropriate to wear this?
Shit. I don’t want to even have that thought. Age appropriate? really?
It’s just weird that D is saying goodbye to this form of her mom and tonight I’m going to dinner with my sister and dad to celebrate his 94th birthday. Why 94 years for some and 75 for others?
It just is weird. And I am middle aged. I see friends I haven’t seen in years at their parent’s funerals. Chit chat sums up life in a few sentences. “Yes, B is now a freshman at UT. S is in eighth grade; I’m semi-retired.”
“Semi retired.” This idea gets me, this 53-year-old feels she is just getting started in life when many people I went to school with are working their way out of their careers and into what? Golf?
So I’m going with the Rayon dress, I don’t really care if my boots are age appropriate or not and yes I do listen to music on an ipod. I now know that is not the norm, the movie critic in the New York Times mentioned this past summer how cool and retro it was that the protagonist in the movie “Baby Driver” used an iPod to play music driving the getaway car. I had to ask my colleagues at work “what do most people use to play music ?” “Their phone.” Oh. I prefer an iPod; I don’t want my tel 24/7.
So that confirms it. I’m middle-aged and grateful. Grateful that I am here instead of this being my funeral. I have lots more to do in this body that looks different and feels different, and I don’t really care whether or not I look or act age appropriate, I have made it this far.
I have a card taped above my kitchen sink.
“I’m a grown – ass Lady, And I do what I want.”
Exactly. Welcome to middle age, Maria. Own it.