The preschooler asked, “Teacher, how old are you?”
“How old are you?” I asked back.
“Four and a half,” she answered, holding up four fingers. “One, two, three, four.” She looked pleased with herself when she remembered not to count the fifth finger.
Little girl, I can’t remember being 4 1/2 years old, but I can remember finally being old enough to date, to drive, to vote — which I do in every election — to drink, to graduate college and to marry. We just celebrated our 52nd anniversary.
Wait a minute! How did I get old enough to be married 52 years? Wasn’t it the day before yesterday that I looked at the man driving the car on our way to our new apartment after our wedding and wondered, who is this stranger? What will I have to talk to him about five years from now?
If you ask him, he’ll say I’ve had plenty to talk about the past 52 years.
On the day after we got home from our honeymoon, I walked into the kitchen, and it hit me. If I want to eat breakfast, I have to make it. I don’t live with my parents anymore, and my mother isn’t going to make me breakfast, lunch or dinner, or do my laundry, or clean the house. I really am married.
When someone called me “Mommy,” I remember thinking, who me? And then realizing that they weren’t talking about my mother. Wasn’t it just yesterday when I cradled my first born in my arms and had to be taught how to change his diaper and burp him? He’s 50 now. How did I get to be old enough to have a child old enough to join AARP?
When did I get old enough to be called “Grandma”? I couldn’t wait to be called Grandma. Now, we have a 14-year-old granddaughter and a 10-year-old grandson we see every week.
I’m old enough to be retired. We worked hard and got lucky. We were told retirement would mean that we would have plenty of spare time. Maybe later, when we run out of things to do. Now, I bowl and crochet afghans for wecareblankets.org, a charity that distributes them to children’s hospitals on the East Coast. I’m also active with other charities.
My husband and I belong to the Westbury Senior Center and the Carle Place Senior Center where we play cards and socialize. We’re also active in our temple and as baby sitters for our grandchildren. We’re often out to dinner and a show with friends. Sometimes, at the end of the day, we fall asleep in front of the TV.
I’m old enough to know that bad times don’t last forever; it just seems that way. I know that if you bet on red in roulette, more often than not, the marble will land on black. If you tell a child not to do something, I’ll bet they will test you to see if you mean it. When someone says, “I’ll call you,” odds are they won’t. “I’ll call you Tuesday night,” means they probably will.
I’m old enough to know that I’m nearer the end of a story than the beginning. Some of my friends are older than I. Their grandchildren are having children. I’m older than my sister will ever be, but not as old as I hope to be. I’m old enough to pass on my hard-won knowledge to now-receptive ears, to speak my mind so you know exactly what I mean.
Some would say I’m an old lady, especially if they are “One, two, three, four,” but not yet five. They would be wrong. I’m not old enough to be an old lady.