A couple of years ago I was told by a doctor that I had arthritis in my back.
He made it official.
See, when I was a kid with not a care in the world, if I ever heard the word arthritis, I immediately associated the word with "Old People."
So in my mind, when he told me I had arthritis, I knew I had reached that dreaded milestone and had become an "Old Person."
I had a bit of a flare up over the weekend and I used a cane to help me get up and moving.
Harry looked at the cane and said, "Do you really need it?"
"Would you rather pick me up off the ground?" I asked.
"Well, it makes you look old," Boy Wonder answered.
"Today, I feel old," Granny Koehler responded.
But, then a day or two later, I was in the pool and I felt like Michael Phelps.
Am I an Old Person? Or am I just at an age where I have Old Person moments? I'm going with the latter. I'm still way too young to be old.
I received this email the other day and got a kick out of it. It's a song by Libby L. Allen titled "Green Side of the Grass." It goes like this:
"On the other side of 50,
There's something you should know,
The eyesight fades, the hearing fails,
And when you sneeze the bladder goes.
The walk becomes a shuffle,
The bathroom's now your friend,
Cause without a single warning,
You've got to go again.
The wrinkles in that mirror,
Just can't be on your face,
You think a stranger's in your house,
Cause your things are out of place.
Arthritis comes to visit,
Gravity takes its toll,
The list of meds is growing long,
Just a part of getting old.
Look on the bright side,
You're on the Green Side of the Grass,
You're not six feet under,
This day is not your last.
There may be senior moments,
Cause the memory's fading fast,
But at least you're still on
The Green Side of the Grass."
Here's the thing. Yes, I have my "senior" moments. All of those things are now occurring, more often than I would like. But I don't feel old, mentally and in my heart. I believe becoming an Old Person is a state of mind. How do I know? Because there are amazing people older than myself who are still doing amazing things.
My dear friend Pattie Mihalik is 10 years older than I am and bikes, hikes, kayaks and has more energy than anyone I know. My fourth grade teacher Constance Andrews is in her 90s and still does her own gardening, loves to bake and is an amazing artist still practicing her art. Pearl Borger and Mae Borger, in their 80s, continue to be very active in Kunkletown Vol. Fire Co.'s Ladies Auxiliary and spend hours volunteering their time. My mom, just a young 81, is an inspiration in so many ways.
When I see lightning bugs glowing softly on a warm summer night, I feel 10 again and reach out to capture one, or two or three and feel a childlike wonder of them.
When Harry and I get in the '64 Chevy, turn all the windows down and have music of the 60s blaring from a CD, I'm Sweet 16, with not a care or worry in the world, feeling free and like anything's possible.
When I hold five-month-old cutie-pie Bailey, or sweet four-month old Lily, I'm a twenty-something young mom again, remembering the heart-stopping moments of first smiles, first giggles of my own baby girl but I'm just as appreciative of my one-on-one times with my grown up daughter and friend.
I recall trying to water ski for the first time in my 20s and taking a car trip by myself and having no fear. Now, even though my biological calendar tells me I'm 61, I know I still want to jet ski and take my first rafting trip down the Colorado River. There are still adventures I want to experience.
When I was in my 30s, I went back to college and earned my degree. I was thirsty for knowledge and loved learning. Now with each passing year, I find I'm still ravenous for learning and appreciate history more than ever.
It wasn't until I reached 40 that I found the career I yearned for and I thank God every day for allowing me to have a job that fulfills me still 20 years later.
A friend told me that when I would turn 50, I would feel a freedom unlike any other. Indeed, I learned to be more choosy about what I wanted to do with my time and who I wanted to spend it with. Don't they say that when you get old, you don't have to care about what you say? I hope I never get that old that I forget how much words can hurt and harm.
I can't wait to see what my 60s, 70s and 80s have in store for me. Because if I've learned anything in my lifetime, it's this ... age is a state of mind, my body still has miles to go and my heart tells me to keep on dreaming of things to do, places to go and people to meet.
And I plan to do just that as long as I'm on the Green side of the Grass.