I am not one of those people who gets offended when you ask her age. (47, in case you’re wondering.) I think it’s silly to get bent out of shape. We are the age we are, and God willing, we’ve gained wisdom with age.
I take my cue from my paternal grandmother. Once, she told someone she was fifty-five, and I yelled, “Fifty-five? I thought you were NINETY-NINE!!!” She laughed so hard, she almost cried.(That’s one of those ridiculously vivid memories. I remember exactly where in her house we were standing, and in what configuration. Strange, the things that become foundational memories.)
I have the best eyes in my family. Or at least, I did until my older sister and my parents had corrective/cataract surgeries. But the best eyes in my family means 20/700 and 20/800, uncorrected.
So I have no angst surrounding aging eyes. I’ve known this day was coming for a while. When I was a kid, my mom used to go around crying, “How can you READ in that light????” and turning on lights. We all rolled our eyes. I’m happy to say that I do not scold my kids for reading in lower light than I think necessary, because I’m well aware that I need a heck of a lot more light now than I did ten years ago.
But for the past year and a half, I’ve been flirting with the line. Having to hold the book farther and farther away before the words will focus. Blowing things up on the screen to large fonts. Going crazy while trying to help my teenager with homework, because the school computers they give those kids are at least a third smaller than my laptop, and everything is proportionally smaller, and he keeps the brightness at about 50%. He got very angry with me during the COVID year, when he needed my help with DQs and LEQs and I don’t know what all nightmare of AP essay world. I had to have things brightened and enlarged, and he would yell, “But that wastes SO MUCH ENERGY!”
But I didn’t start wearing readers, because the 1.0s were too much, and I just didn’t get around to ordering .75s online. Even when I did, I put them on, shrugged and said, “Well, it’s brighter and bigger with these, and it doesn’t make me sick to my stomach to wear them, so it must be about right. But I don’t have to have them.”
Until one day, quite abruptly, midsummer 2021, I did.
There was no easing into it. It just happened, boom.
I’m now wearing my readers on chains when I go to choir, because I can’t read the music to play choral parts well enough without them, and if we’re learning a new(ish) song with a lot of words, I need to read them. The first day I wore them to Mass, at least three people came over to comment afterward. It was kind of comical, actually. But then, I started working at this parish at the tender age of 26, so I suppose all the people who were old enough for reading glasses then feel the weight of this transition at least as much as I do. 🙂
My family mocks me constantly for the “old lady chains,” but I just have to shrug and go on, because—as I said above—my family has really bad eyes, and I have to do what I have to do.
This whole transition has sensitized me to other age-related realities. Without going into details that might off-put readers, let’s just say that there are times when I can see old age in my skin, to say nothing of what lies beneath it. I’ll leave that one there and move on to a related effect that I recognized years ago.
I won’t go outside in the sun anymore without a hat that covers my whole forehead, because years of flute playing with my eyebrows raised has caused permanent etchings in my forehead and the last thing I need is to be making them worse by squinting.
In fact, what I asked for on my birthday this year was a wide brim to go over a bicycle helmet. Confession: I have never worn a bicycle helmet, ever. But I do recognize that I should. I just didn’t, because no bicycle helmet I have ever seen shades your eyes properly. My grubby old ugly visor protects my eyes and my forehead better. But, in an effort to set a good example for my kids, I asked for a helmet brim for my birthday. Of course, it was set up to provide more shade in the back than the front, which is idiotic. The whole point was to shade my eyes! So I am wearing it backwards.
(I sound just like my cantankerous grandmother. Whoa. Ahem.)
Again: much mocking from my family. “Do not EVER take a picture of yourself in that,” my husband said.
I wasn’t convinced for a while, honestly. The first day, the wind kept ripping the elastic brim off the helmet. I had to stop and turn around to retrieve it twice. The third time, I tightened it up until it snapped in so tight around the helmet, it’s never coming off. After that it acted like an airplane wing, and the wind tried to lift me off my bike altogether. I was about to pitch the whole thing when I submitted to the inevitable and realized I had to tighten the chin strap. I have a real problem with things that are tight under my throat. I have a bad gag reflex. But I told myself to grow up and leave it there, that I’d get used to it. And I did… mostly.
What’s the point of this blog post? TMI sharing, I suppose. It’s just bizarre to me to be facing such concrete proof of the aging process marching forward in myself.