On June 30th I asked you to tell me how old you feel as compared to how old the calendar says you are. Here are the unscientifically-gathered, anecdotally-reported, prove-nothing, but interesting, results.
Almost everyone said they feel younger than they are. One or two respondents weren’t “sure”. The rest of us felt anywhere from ten to twenty years younger. One who had just pushed a big rock up a hill in her garden reported feeling twenty at that moment. Many of you said that regular exercising, including Pilates, yoga, and walking kept you feeling young. A few of us lift weights. One reported that how old she felt depended on how much sleep she had gotten the night before.
Here’s what Peter who is 89 and my most loyal reader wrote:
I'm not sure I know what it means to feel an age. I know what age I don't feel I am: Young. I don't think about my age until something or someone points it out to me. I feel old (maybe 60) when my back aches. I felt old (maybe 21) when I was 16 and a kid who was in an elevator with me and referred to me as "that man". I felt really old (61) when a pregnant woman offered me her seat on the subway. I'm easily swayed. I don't feel as old (or young) as I feel I am. I feel as old as other people feel I am which, most of the time fortunately, is younger than what the calendar tells me at those rare times when I remember what year it is.
I had my right knee replaced twelve years ago. The surgery went smoothly. The recovery did not. Physical therapy hurt. Working from my sofa was painful. It took about a year for the swelling to go away. To this day, people tell me I have a run in my stocking because I have a ten-inch vertical white scar through the center of my knee.
I decided that one knee replacement was enough. I vowed to keep my left knee unreplaced forever.
About a year ago, I began to have a little discomfort in that left knee. I ignored it until I couldn’t. I decided to wait until summer was over before I sought help, but my friend/trainer Kathy said waiting was a bad idea because you have more options if you catch it before it is bone-on-bone. She mentioned something called Synvisc, a shot that puts a gel-like cushion between the bones.
My X-ray showed severe osteoarthritis, but it wasn’t bone-on-bone yet. My primary care doctor referred me to orthopedics.
I haven’t had much good medical news lately, so I was prepared for the worst. But, not only did the doctor tell me that my replaced right knee still looked great, she gave me a shot of Synvisc in my left knee that has already, just four days later, given me noticeable relief.
Attention: Monday and Tuesday are Amazon Prime Days. This is the fifth year that Amazon will offer its bargain-loving customers short windows of savings on many popular items in honor of its own birthday. Only those who have “Amazon Prime” ($119 a year for a membership that includes free shipping) may participate, meaning that potentially 101-million people could be competing with you for a limited supply of robot vacuum cleaners.
(I have heard that other big stores are hoping to join in the fun by matching Prime Day prices—no membership required.)
Last year Amazon sold 300,000 hot pots on Prime Day. It boggles my mind to think of Amazon employees scurrying around warehouses looking for hot pots to pack into boxes for delivery to 300,000 customers all over the world.
I don’t own a hot pot. I don’t want more “things.” I will not be tempted by Amazon Prime Days.
We don’t know all the neighbors on our corridor very well. But we have been observing Naomi. She is a very tiny 90-year old who goes out every day, no matter what the temperature. She’s bundled up like an Eskimo in the winter and under a big hat in the summer. We hear classical music coming from her condo, and rumor has it that she was a wonderful classics professor. She walked 2.1 miles each way to Boston University every day.
Peter talked to her at our condo’s community cookout last week and offered to help her with her computer. He spent about a half hour with her the next day. He was unable to help her deal with her 20,000 unread emails! They agreed that she needed to go to the Apple Genius Bar.
On Wednesday, Naomi and I were waiting for the elevator together and we chatted about the hot day and then she asked, “Is that man you live with your father or your husband?”
I discussed this with Peter. We’re not sure whether I look young or he looks old. Maybe both. I still grin when I think about it.
Peter thinks Naomi needs to get her eyes examined.
It’s July. How is that possible? In just a few weeks, we will have been back in Cambridge for a year. Our apartment feels much more like home now. Its imperfections are still here, but we are used to them. We have established some routines. We know when to avoid the laundry room and how to get rid of stuff that’s too big for the trash chute.
Our landlord has extended our lease for another year so we’re actually considering buying towels that match our bathrooms. We’ve gotten used to the sound of traffic and never tire of our wonderful view of the crews rowing down the Charles River at dawn.
Most of all, we are happy to be with our friends of so many years. And we’ve made some new friends too. We are happy to be back with our doctors although we wish we didn’t see them so often.
Do we miss anything about our life in Washington, DC? Yes. Being near our kids and grandkids was amazing. It just wasn’t enough.
We all know how many birthdays we’ve had. But do we know how many we want? Sure, it will depend on how healthy we are, how lucky we have been, the choices we’ve made, what’s happening in “our” world and “the” world and more.
While doing pushups the other morning, I wondered, “How could an eighty-one-year old do twenty-one pushups every day?” My answer: “They couldn’t so I couldn’t possibly be eighty-one."
What about you? How old are you? How old do you feel? I really want to know and will report what I learn (without names of course).
I’ve been pretty open about my craving for coffee ice cream. I feel that fresh flowers are also a necessity in our home. They cheer me up. I was extra happy this week when dinner guests brought us a beautiful bouquet.
A recent report supports what I already knew. A ten-month behavioral study conducted by Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction. It found that flowers are a natural moderator of moods and have strong positive effects on people’s emotional health.
Most weeks I buy white flowers. What I didn’t know until now is that white symbolizes openness. White blossoms are most often associated with purity, honesty and perfection.
Years ago, a 70-something friend announced that she was done giving dinner parties. Eating out was “so much easier,” she said. It didn’t occur to me then that my generation would feel that way some day. But that day has come.
For me, eating out is not much of a pleasure. Watching all the gluten-eating people at my table order from a full menu of delicious choices while I look for the few items that are marked GF (gluten-free) takes away the thrill of not having to cook. Watching my friends chomp on beautiful desserts while I can only choose the lemon sorbet—not much fun. (I have to admit that things used to be much worse.)
So here’s my compromise. We invite friends to dinner at our home. But instead of the four or five courses that I used to serve, I offer three. I don’t use as much butter (much to Peter’s dismay) and I find that simple can be delicious when the ingredients are fresh.
Last week, we had company for dinner twice. Peter and our guests loved both meals.
On a recent June morning, Peter and I walked around the Fresh Pond Reservoir for the first time since we returned to Cambridge. A stone’s throw from our former home, we have spent countless hours walking there. (In truth, when we moved to Cambridge in 1995, we spent countless hours running there, but that was then.)
There have been some wonderful improvements made to the surrounding park over the years, and it was great to see that it continues to get a lot of attention. What it doesn’t get is a lot of appreciation from the people who use it. Almost everyone who is walking or running alone was on a cellphone. Maybe they were listening to a favorite podcast or catching up with a friend, but what they weren’t doing was enjoying where they were.
Don’t get me wrong. I rely on my cellphone. I wouldn’t give it up. But I like to say “Hi” to people while I’m waiting for elevators or at bus stops. I like to smile at the stranger sitting next to me at the theater.
That’s hard to do when they are glued to their phones.