On July 25, I said for the very last time, "I'm 69 years old."
When I woke up the next day, I had entered a whole new decade: the 70s. July 26 was my birthday. How did this happen so fast?
I remember when my mother turned 70. We -- her three daughters -- made her a surprise 70th birthday party. I remember thinking back then that 70 seemed old.
Not so today. Today I've been told 70 is the new 60, and 60 the new 50; well, you get the picture. I looked carefully in the mirror the night before my birthday. There were no new visible wrinkles and no brown "age spots."
I looked again on the morning of my birthday and didn't see anything different from the night before. Oh, yes, I had some gray hair, but not to worry: I was going to the beauty salon to get that taken care of.
My brain seems to be functioning just fine, thank you. I remember things from so long ago, my sisters tell me it sometimes scares them.
I'm still working, part-time, and I am on my feet 9 to 10 hours a day. I don't need a calculator to add up figures. All of the 30 phone numbers I call the most are in my head.
My grandchildren have that look of, "Really, Grandma," when I insist they put their cellphones on vibrate when we go out to eat. I explain to them that I enjoy their company and want to talk to them, not see a phone hanging out of their ears.
I suppose in that respect you might call me old-fashioned. I tell them how for so many years we all lived without cellphones. There was a thing called a telephone booth, a long rectangular-shaped glass booth with a telephone in it. You would put change into the slots, dial your number, and wait for someone to answer. We didn't have access to a phone 24/7, and we survived!
While it is true that in an emergency we would have a difficult time calling for help, we somehow managed. My grandchildren -- the older ones, anyway -- look at me with exasperation.
OK, I admit it: I do have some ways that are hard to change. When I go into Manhattan to see a Broadway show, I get dressed a little different from when I go supermarket shopping. It bothers me just a little to see people going into the theater wearing jeans with holes at the knee and a T-shirt. You don't have to put on a tuxedo or gown, but could you please wear pants without holes?
Sometimes it's nice to dress up a little. When I walk into a store, any kind of store, you see people talking -- it looks like to themselves -- but no, they have a Bluetooth in their ear and are having a conversation with someone. If they don't have a Bluetooth, then there is a cellphone attached to one ear as they shop. Don't interrupt them or you'll get a dirty look! Look in the car next to you and hope the driver has at least one hand on the wheel and no phone in the other.
I'm the first to admit I don't like change very much. I like seeing the same people around me that I have for many years. While I'm fast to make new friends, the old ones fit like a pair of comfortable shoes -- you never want to give them up.
I still sing songs from my teenage years. I saved my autographed photographs of the rock and roll stars of my era -- Elvis, Dion, Bobby Darin, Fabian, Frankie Avalon and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes. When I look at those photos, I am a young teenager again. Where did 50-plus years go so fast? I am also a huge Billy Joel and Michael Bublé fan, so I am in today's music mode, too.
I love my life today. I have a husband, three great kids, two nice sons-in-law and five wonderful grandchildren. In my head, I feel like I'm only 40. While I have some aches and pains and had a couple of frightening health issues not too long ago, I'm still here! I hope to be here for a very long time. Hoping that when each new decade comes I will welcome it, still have a brain that is properly functioning, legs that can still move, and a zest for life that never dies.
Maureen Kessler Fried,
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