A couple of weeks ago, we had a long discussion about cosmetic surgery in old age. The comments score pro and con, if you don't count a few who confused cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, was about 50/50.
It baffles me how anyone, particularly those no longer competing in the workforce, would spent a moment of precious time thinking about how old he or she looks, let alone spend retirement funds to achieve a facsimile of youth that fools no one.
On one level, I get it. We live in an ageist world that devalues people over the age of – oh, it starts around 40 - and the constant drumbeat in every communications media that old people are, by definition, deficient is shameful.
Like so many, I was forced out of the workplace due to my age long before I was ready to retire. In addition, I've been made invisible in dozens of different ways. My thoughts and opinions have been dismissed merely because I'm old and wrinkled.
Actually, I complained about that last item until I was 30 or so when I finally began to look like a grownup. Until then, I had looked like a teenager and was so happy to finally be taken seriously. No one warned me then that there would be an expiration date.
Perhaps that dismissal of me in my youth accounts for never having spent a single serious moment wishing I were younger than I am (currently 75).
Mostly I got on with life and career and never thought about growing old until that day in 1995 or 1996 when I noticed that I was older by decades than the 20-somethings I worked with.
It was a turning point for me that day, the idea that I am not the one immortal on earth and that I will get old, I will die and I've spent a large portion of my days since then studying, researching and thinking about ageing - the results of which, beginning in 2004, have become this blog.
Any of you who have been hanging around here for awhile know that I often use myself as the guinea pig; if it – whatever “it” is - happens to me, it happens to thousands of you too.
So when I have a problem with urinary incontinence, so do some of you. Or with going bald, something more surprising to women, I think, than men, I'm not the only one. Or dropping things more frequently as I've gotten older, I know it's not just my problem.
I'm pretty sure – well, actually, I know I would never have been capable of confronting those (and many other) ageing issues, writing about them here and particularly, admitting to them if I were concerned about looking or even being old.
There's an old wive's tale that no matter how healthy you have been, after 75 it's all down hill. That's been on my mind this past year along with the idea – more often male than female – that you might be likely to die at the same age your father (for men) or mother (for women) did.
Both of these ideas are really stupid. What kind of idiot would believe them? Ahem, try me.
My mother died at age 75 and nine months. I have been acutely aware since my last birthday in April that this month, January 2017, I am the same age as my mother at her death. I know it's absurd but what can I say. It's there. It pops to mind regularly.
It's not growing old or looking old that bothers me anywhere near as much as losing the good health I've enjoyed all my life. I understand perfectly that I have no control over the former and I'm working on understanding the same for the latter.
Meanwhile, with great curiosity and interest, I keep watch on the signs of my ageing. They accumulate.
It was seven or eight years ago I noticed that a smile line on one side of my mouth didn't disappear anymore when I wasn't smiling. Since then I've carefully watched it grow deeper and be joined by its partner, etched on the other side of my mouth. I don't mind.
Then there is the crepe-y skin in all manner of places on my body. It increased abundantly after I lost 40 pounds four years ago - on my belly, my arms, my hands, my thighs and lately, even my knees. If I live long enough, I suppose I'll just be a saggy bag of wrinkles.
These days, I tire more easily compared to most of my life before now. A weariness comes over me sometimes in the afternoon that is similar to what I felt in bygone days in the late evening at bedtime.
Also, all my life I have been eager to hop out of bed as soon as I wake, to get going with the day, to see what it will bring. For the past couple of months, for the first time ever, I'm just as happy to pull the quilt over my head and snooze for another hour or two.
There is more, but you get the point and I'm not alarmed or worried about these physical changes. I'm almost four years short of 80. It's okay.
What does concern me are the changes I've noticed in my brain function, even though I know they are normal for my age.
It is harder now to organize my to-do list each day, to work out what should come first, second, etc. Sustained focus, such as finishing an article I'm reading or getting at least a rough draft of a blog post done before moving on is a goal now, not a fact.
Even I am not sure how many partly finished books, magazine stories and blog posts are floating around.
Making some types of choices has become a joke. For all my adult life, I made a distinction between a review being all I want to know about about a book's subject and others I was eager to read in full.
Now, if I read the review, the book goes on my to-read list. There are either a whole lot more better books in the world than 20, 25 years ago or I can't make make the distinction anymore. You know which of those two choices is correct.
I'm pretty sure all that I've described is how it happens, this getting old stuff. Even if like me, you jave been lucky enough so far to have no chronic illnesses or conditions (she said knocking wood), one's capabilities for ordinary things get chipped away at as the years pile up.
So far I'm having a fine ol' time watching the changes come over my life and I'm grateful I'm not burdened with a yearning for youth. I don't claim any superior level of understanding about that - I didn't earn it; it's just how I am.
My hope is that as I inevitably grow less capable in body and mind in coming years, I can accept those changes with some composure, self-possession and particularly curiosity as I have until now.