Thursday, February 14, 2019

Turning 70: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

I don't feel old. I don't have arthritis or other big aches and pains, at least not today. I can still do the things I care about — walking, reading, writing, and most importantly, spending time with the people I love.

I can still line dance.

I can still marvel at the beauty of the world. During the winter months I feel fortunate that I can sit on my island bench overlooking Biscayne Bay and watch the pelicans and cormorants fly by. Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to see a manatee surface for air or a spotted eagle ray leap out of the water. Mostly, though, I enjoy taking in the view with E. by my side. More than anywhere else, that bench is where I can just be in the moment.

I feel lucky to have so many terrific people in my life — wonderful family and friends who put up with me, laugh with me, and are there when I need them.

I hadn't expected the special pleasure of having adult relationships with my sons and their wives. They seem a lot smarter than me now, but I'm delighted that they still occasionally ask my opinion. Best of all, I've loved watching them become great parents to my four amazing grandchildren.

Also good — no gray hair yet.

The Bad

Health. Ill health, that is. Several friends have faced difficult health challenges during the past year. I know it comes with the territory, but it's still a daunting path to face as I meander into older age.

The specter of poor health in one's seventies is bad enough, but when serious illness strikes a young person, it's a million times worse. That happened to someone I love this year and has reminded me how cruel and arbitrary life can be.

Then there's the wider world, with the earth in crisis on every imaginable level — glaciers melting, insects disappearing, Trump tweeting, Venezuela and Yemen imploding, racism and anti-Semitism as virulent as ever. Not a very auspicious time to turn 70. (But see The Good, above — focusing on simple pleasures and loved ones really helps.)

The Ugly

With a nod to Nora Ephron, my neck. Not to mention all those other wrinkles. But here's something good — I can't get up the energy to care. Of course, that's probably because I'm 70 and don't have as much energy as I used to.