Saturday, May 4, 2019

Age is Just a Number

Super Bowl 2019!
On July first, I will turn seventy. I remember when seventy sounded so old. I remember when thirty sounded old! Once I reached the age I thought was old, I realized it really wasn't. My Uncle Charlie once told me that after turning forty, he was the most comfortable in his own skin he had ever felt. At the time, I was in my early thirties. I felt depressed as I approached forty, but remembered what Uncle Charlie told me, and on my fortieth birthday, I felt good!
65th Birthday, Ireland

I was still playing tennis and fast-pitching a softball with the Newton Womens' City League. At age forty-one, I hit my one and only homerun! I was never a power hitter. My job was to get on base. Whenever I hit that left-field homerun and rounded third base, I kept yelling, "Don't make me slide! Don't make me slide!" I never learned to slide and was afraid of hurting myself.
35th Birthday

At age thirty-five, my right leg gave out for the first time while running to first base. I knew that moment was the beginning of a progression of physical breakdowns, but I didn't get worried. I just kept plugging along; stretching before and during a game, and icing my shins when I stopped line drives with them and making the plays on my knees. I remember those days fondly.

Softball Days
I also loved playing tennis at work. I joined the tennis league there too, and at thirty-five (or thereabouts), I won second place in the league finals. I remember how it felt to beat my friend, Wendy, who was so much better than me to make second place. I floated on air as I made every shot she hit at me: long shots, runs to the net, and pivots left or right. I hit everything! I saw her shocked face when I made what seemed to be a great shot of hers, and how it felt to make them. But, once I played for the win against a much older woman, I got killed. I was not playing the same game at all, but Beryl deserved it. She was really, really good. My excuse was that I had a cold. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Upper Falls Heritage Day!
At forty-two, I took a pitching clinic the winter before the spring season began. I remember the "pop" sound my right shoulder made when I injured it doing the windmill motion I had finally mastered. Ice and Ibuprofen and toughing it out was my solution. So, once the season began, and I continued to play tennis and pitch softball. My injured shoulder progressed to tennis elbow, and then a swollen lump on my wrist so large I couldn't hold a pen. This cumulative injury benched me for good, and landed me in physical therapy for eight months. I never played either sport again, and my shoulder still acts up now and then. But, I have my memories.
60-Mile Breast Bancer Walk, 2000

On the upside, I recently attended my great-nephew's baseball game and played catch with my nephew and great niece. My muscle memory came right back the first time I heard the plop of that softball in the glove's web. It took a few throws to get warmed up, but I kept up with both of them. My great niece is a pitcher as was her father. "Guess who else used to pitch," he announced to her. I raised my hand like a little kid and said, "Me, Me!" I loved it, and still miss it now and then. I felt proud that at my age, I can still play catch and not feel pain the next day. "That's a testament to your level of fitness," my movement coach told me. I feel proud of myself, and happy to be healthy as I approach seventy years old; arthritis be damned!
Hope Walks for Diana

My entire forty-nineth year was spent worrying about turning fifty. But when the day came, I rented a vacation home in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard during my timeshare week in Vineyard Haven, and threw myself a kick-ass party! That was the last summer my mother, who had breast cancer, spent on her happy place island home. My family, friends and I love to share memories of that two weeks on the island. And, once again, I realized turning fifty was nothing! All that worry for nothing.
Singing with abandon

Trinity Repertory Theater, Providence
Age really is just a number, as long as you keep moving and pushing yourself to try new things. Smiling, laughing; singing and dancing are some of the keys to a happy life. Playing like you are still a kid helps too. I love to play with my three-year-old grandson. "Come on, Gramma," he says to me while waving me on, fulling expecting I can join him on whatever climbing structure he explores. "That's made for little people," I have to say sometimes. Which is true. If that structure could hold my weight, I'd be on it with him. I am so grateful to be physically able to play with him.

BFFs from Childhood
St. Patty's Day, 2019, Newport, RI
I will also never get tired of hearing, "You don't look seventy." I just feel like me! I still feel eighteen inside sometimes. When my knees hurt, and I can't jump (both from pain and from peeing in my pants a little), I also know that when I don't think about it, I can jump with the best of them. When I dance with abandon, especially to a live band, I can jump, kick and shimmy with any twenty-something smiling at me in my wake. I LOVE that!

Snow shoeing for the first time, 2019
Family Vacation, NH, 2019
So, for my seventieth birthday, my husband, Larry, and I are driving to the Berkshire mountains and spending my birth day zip lining fifty feet in the air through the trees and kayaking. I asked for a sea kayak for my birthday, so I can go with my seventy-two-year-old friend on the Sakonnet River this summer. I love my life. I love feeling happy. And, even though I do feel my age sometimes, for the most part, I just feel in the moment and am grateful. I am thankful and grateful for my health, my family, my friends and my spirit. I love to laugh at myself and at life. I cannot get wrapped up in the seriousness of life, because what is happening around our country and the world right now is a real downer. So, my hippie self kicks in and says, "Don't worry, be happy."