I was alerted to these questions last night when I was visiting the local nursing home to hand out Christmas cards and one of the residents told me in a confidential tone, “They make me sleep in a room with two old women.”
Clearly she did not think she was living among her peers and I wondered what she saw when she looked at her reflection. The general observer would look at this woman and see someone who was old and unwell.
I don't know this lady but I can imagine how she feels. Even at 40 I sometimes have to remind myself that what I am contemplating is not age appropriate. Admittedly that mainly comes into play when I admire a good looking young man. And it was catching myself in such thoughts that made me feel the cage that age could be especially if you have never mentally adjusted to your chronological age.
Such moments have made me think of my grandfathers; one was a fan of the television show The 20-Minute Workout in the 1980s and the other was a keen observer of his young female health care worker. No one had any illusions as to why my grandfather liked the 20-minute workout; spandex-clad, bending, and thrusting women. But the female health care worker just didn't understand that my grandfather, although 90 years old, was still thrilled by her trim figure puttering about his room.
Both of these men still had eyes for young women and no doubt, somewhere in their minds, thought of themselves as the young men they once were, but it was the reality of age that let them only feast with their eyes.
As time moves on I see physical changes in myself but none that seem too drastic. I still look very much like my High School graduation picture. I have never been afraid of aging as I am generally relieved to be alive at all given my medically precarious beginning. But I do wonder if I will ever be able to accept that I belong in a room full of old women.