Do you know what I discovered this weekend? I TURNED 70 FREAKIN’ YEARS OLD!
WTF?! Who and what gobbled up my life, and how did it happen so quickly? It feels as if I was 19 just yesterday. What the hell happened? I woke up on June 9th with a 19-year-old’s spirit in a 70-year-old’s body that said, “Let’s go, go, go, go, go, Girl” but my old-woman body instantly responded: “Oh, hell to the no, no, no, no, no, Girl”!! (I had done some extra cardio the day before and everything on my body—including my earlobes and my nipples—was writhing in pain.) But no one knew how to comfort me. Part of the problem is that I don’t look 70 (thank God!), therefore, absolutely no one has sympathy for me. I look good—owing to the fact that “Black don’t crack,” expensive make-up, and an unlimited supply of fashionable wigs. I can still see well, hear well, walk several miles a day, and lead a coup against racist assholes when they try to take over my community.
I’ve started working on my fourth book, and I’m thinking of going on tour as a storyteller (move over David Sedaris). So what’s my problem? Why do I feel like I want to break out into a drunken sloppy rendition of a Frank Sinatra song: “And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…?”
I called a nonagenarian (my mentor of 54 years), and I told her I didn’t want to turn 70 years old. In fact, I was truly in a funk about it. She replied: “What is your alternative?” Then she continued with her kick in the ass: “I’m 90 years old. I can’t see, I can’t hear without hearing aids, I can’t walk without a walker or a cane, I can no longer eat salads because they give me gas—but praise God, my mind is sharp as a tack, and for that I give him glory. Otherwise, I’d kill to be 70 again—I was still driving then!
“If you had told me when I met you at 16 and I was 36 that I’d still be alive to smack you upside your head and tell you to get over yourself as I did when you were young, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, on the phone with you, having to pee for the 5th time in an hour because my bladder no longer functions at this age. So before I rush off (more like waddle off) to the ladies room, here’s the 911 about old age: Lord willing, you’ve still got another decade of get-up-and-get-to-it-ness (although, none of us are guaranteed another minute of life past this moment). It’s between 80 – 85 years old when the body starts to really drag you toward the dust, and no amount of wishing and hoping will curtail it. All most of us manage to do during that time is get up, eat, poop, nap, remember the old days (if we’re lucky), rinse, and repeat. Today, I suggest you put one foot in the front of the other, take each day at a time, don’t moan over what you’ve lost, but celebrate what you have left with every ounce of your being because none of us are guaranteed any tomorrows. It’s all about the attitude, Little Girl. Now, I’ve got to go pee. Love you, Doll!”
My mentor was right, of course. I couldn’t let my pity party continue. Even though I felt I hadn’t yet reached all the goals I had set in life, one conversation with my kids helped me see that I had done more than I thought, and they admired me for it. I had conquered internal demons as well as external ones. I was a survivor of abuse—more than a survivor—a conqueror! I was a mentor to both women and men. According to my kids, they still see me reaching for the stars as if I were 19, and it blows them away. They see me as someone who refuses to put up with religious stupidity and is not afraid to say “no” when others try and steer me off my true course in life. They see me as someone who is not afraid to speak her mind. They still see me as a fighter—still a badass in their minds with a sweet touch of Jesus.
Most of all, my kids see me as the love of their father’s life, and they say that we are their life’s aspiration.
On my birthday, 39 years ago, I gave myself a fabulous b-day present: my man. Six years after the Supreme Court passed Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, I saw my future husband at an audition for a play, and it was intrigue at first sight. A month later we went on our third date, and he knew he wanted to marry me. Twelve years after the passing of Loving v. Virginia, my man and I tied the knot in front of an audience of hundreds of well-wishers in a cow barn turned into a hippy church. It was the best choice either of us have ever made—law or no law. When you’re a baked potato and you find your stick of butter, you lock that shit down! Happy Birthday to me, and Happy Anniversary to the Tomczyk us.
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT GROWING OLD (ER)
“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent—that is to triumph over old age.”—Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“While I am in this world, I am resolved that no vexation shall put me out of temper if I can possibly command myself. Even old age, which is making strides towards me, shall not prevail to make me peevish.”—Samuel Adams
“When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”—Friedrich Nietzsche
“Old age is no place for sissies.”—Bette Davis
THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK: “The Fetus Chronicles: Podcasts From my Miseducated Self” is on sale now at Amazon!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com
WANT TO HEAR THE AUTHOR’S LATEST INTERVIEW? Check out the podcast interview with Leo Brown: http://breadboxmedia.podbean.com/e/what-if-it-is-true-can-you-find-faith-in-darkness/
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