This morning I considered, without fear or reservation, what it will be like to be 90. To be in this body, and have it be 90 years old.
Up until now, I hadn’t even considered being 64. I had sung the words, but never really let myself think about the day “when I get older, losing my hair, many years from now.” All of The Beatles should have been so lucky. My grandmother, Mary, outlived George Harrison.
Today, I imagined what 2059 could be like for me if I’m lucky enough to have Grandma’s health and prosperity. Assuming that the polar ice caps will somehow hold out, that we’ll eventually bring our troops home from the Middle East, and that China and Venezuela will abstain from invading North America . . . I could spend my last decade discussing the most entertaining new authors with my grand niece via the archaic iChat every 2nd Tuesday of the month. Modern conveniences will make it unnecessary to leave the house for books and food, but I’ll go out for church and concerts and coffee with friends.
At Grandma’s memorial, the pastor told a story about how when he first arrived in town, Mary (as he called her)–in her late 80s at the time, and probably shrunk down to about 4’11” high–showed up at his doorstep with an armful of a variety of small town and big city newspapers. Suggested reading. He knew what she was implying: a good pastor remains well versed on current events.
As time went on, she made a habit of sending the pastor clippings of the articles she felt he should read. I’m sure her acute sense of etiquette prevented her from writing “How does that man sleep at night??!” next to George Bush’s name the way she did on the clippings she sent to me. [Now, if Grandma were still alive, I would never be so bold as to broadcast her private political views this way. She had firm opinions, but her modus operandi was to be polite. To her that meant that topics prone to disagreement would not be raised.]
This morning, when I felt a new sense of excitement over what being that old could mean, my vision of the 90 year old Ruth was specific. I imagined shaking hands with a younger adult, perhaps someone who’s not even born yet. In the fantasy, I smile at this young person, and without words, I communicate clearly to this individual that life is good. My Grandma did that when she walked into a room. People were always happy to see her. I want to be like that when my body is finished shrinking and my cane comes with me most everywhere I go.
Oh — and I’ll make sure my pastor is well read, too.