Amused, vindicated, relieved, gratified that fretting about aging is not just for women. I confess that these are the immature feelings I’ve had since my husband turned 60 years old a few months ago. Why? Well, it seems that now he is the one peering into the mirror and sighing. Looking glum and pre-occupied at times. Mortality and vanity are waging their battles within his psyche.
My husband is a great-looking guy but something about the big 6-0 made him take a closer look in the mirror and notice the gray hairs gaining ground, a little thinning on top, a slight softening of the jaw and, oh-my-gosh, wrinkles! Personally, I’ve been working my way through this newest phase of self-acceptance since my early 50s, and I was beginning to think that men must be better at it than women. Not so. They just come late to the party.
So I feel for him. It’s not easy to take inventory of your changing façade after years of taking your looks for granted. We talked about this as we took an Easter stroll along the river. Surgical procedures aren’t for us, but if there were a pill that could maintain our youthful looks, we’d be the first to take it. Most of the cosmetic surgery “afters” we’ve seen are a caricature of the person’s “before” face. I’m not talking about a wee eye tuck that is so subtle you would barely notice. It’s the cheek implants, the stitched up eyelids and the puffy lips. It just looks weird, not attractive, and reminds me of an over-inflated tire. And, it’s a real money pit and never-ending quest—what about veined hands, sagging body parts and other telltale aging signs that seem to crop up daily?
Anyway, as we walked and talked I told my husband that I had positioned aging this way for myself: everyone has his or her day in the sun looks-wise and there’s a biological reason for that—to attract the opposite sex in order to procreate. Now, we can enjoy the freedom to shine in other, perhaps more important, ways.
Certainly our youth culture doesn’t help with this passage, and there aren’t a lot of rituals or perks related to aging in our society. But my husband and I determined that it’s up to us to change that – in our daily lives and among our family, friends and others – by being content and proud, looking and acting great for our age, demanding and earning respect, and just getting on with living every day. So that’s our roadmap for the future at least for now. It brings to mind those old song lyrics: a fool will lose tomorrow looking back on yesterday. Still, I confess, it takes some mental “rearranging” from time to time.