Turning Ninety (age 90)
by Sheila White
I will turn ninety this year and I’m not looking forward to it.
When I was a child, I didn’t know anyone that old. Few people did. It’s like these days hearing someone saying they are going to be 100. Now, that’s something to raise your eyebrows at. But ninety – well, living in a seniors’ building, as I do, there are several people here over ninety and seemingly doing quite well. It’s no big deal.
Even so, it seems only right to celebrate a ninetieth birthday as though it’s something special. A special card, a special cake, lots of visitors. And there is the poor soul in the middle of it all, trying to smile and pretend they are enjoying all the fuss.
Because ninety, let’s face it, is one big pain, and not just in the neck. It’s in the back and the knees and the feet, and just about everywhere. But you smile through it all, which emphasizes your wrinkles and your few, yellowed teeth as you try to remember everyone’s name as they shower you with gifts that you will never use, and you strain to hear what they are saying despite the constant babble of voices in the background.
So, let’s forget about ninety. Let’s dump it, as I previously suggested we do with those lying answers we automatically give to the question, "How are you?"
And the idiotic idea that every day we are expected to wear clothing that impress the observer, instead of something old and comfy. And the stupidity of wearing clothes at all while swimming -- those bathing suits for women that cost a bundle, only to be immersed in chemicals that later have to be removed by a pricey detergent that’s supposed to prevent them from stretching – but doesn’t. Go naked! But women only, please.
There’s more. Let’s be open and truthful and tell the world we’ve had enough of all the make-believe behaviours that prevent the world from knowing exactly who we are.
By ninety we are NOT what you see before you. We are NOT the wonderful women who always look so neat; who are never seen without lipstick and nail polish; who always smile as though they are pleased to see you; whose manners put your own to shame.
Personally, I’d love to speak out, be myself, that hag-like harridan you turn corners to miss. I would spend all my days in a crumpled robe, neglect my face and hair. Eat chocolate at every meal and potato chips in between.
At ninety we are old beyond old. Tired beyond tired. Ready to shuck off the mantles and mores of society. Sick of winters. Even sick of summers because they never live up to our expectations. Falls are our season. They are a prelude to the end of the year and ends are what we look forward to now. At ninety the end cannot come too soon.
It’s been a wonderful life. Even though its ups and downs seemed like mountains and gorges at the time, they made us what we are. And if you want to fete this poor decrepit mess of aching bones one more time, then go to it and God bless you all.
But no more, I beg you. No more.