I don’t linger over the fact that I’m disintegrating at jet speed. Instead, I wake up each morning in a positive frame of mind. I think about all I’d like to accomplish that day: marketing, laundry, bungee jumping. Then I hang my feet over the edge of the bed, prepare to stand and ……….. Ouch. Groan. Moan……… Wait! I really AM decaying. But, if it’s a good day I may make it across the room without looking like Quasimodo.
I’m glad I retired when I did otherwise I would never have had time for all my medical appointments. I’ve lost count how many surgeries I’ve had. My last three were to open tear ducts that had seared closed, leaving my tears without a channel to flow through, so they filled my eyes, overflowed and ran down my cheeks. It was like looking at the world through a fish tank.
Tear ducts were not on the list of body parts I imagined rotting during the aging process. But, if I didn’t want to walk through life with smudged eye liner and hearing people ask why I’m crying, surgery was necessary to re-open the ducts.
The nurse phoned and wanted me to schedule a follow up visit. With a heavy Island accent she said, “We really need to see you soon. You’re a Polestop.”
“I’m a Polestop?” I asked.
“Yes,” she confirmed, “a Polestop.”
“I’ve never heard of that. How is that spelled? Is it P-o-l-e-s-t-o-p?”
“Yes,” she answered.
I hung up the phone, went to my computer and googled Polestop. Nothing came up, so I asked Mighty Marc if he’d ever heard the term. He laughed. Much too loud.
“WHAT?” I asked. “What’s so funny?”
“Vernie,” he said condescendingly, “She was saying Post Op.”
“Post Op? That would make sense, but she agreed with my P-o-l-e-s-t-o-p spelling.” “Obviously, she wasn’t listening.”
I liked his explanation. It meant I wasn’t stupid. Just slow.
All three surgeries were unsuccessful, so I resorted to having eyeliner tattooed on my upper and lower eyelids. My eyes still drip but I no longer have to worry about my eyeliner makeup smearing. At least I have my priorities straight.
My next surgery is supposed to be for cataracts but after receiving a phone call from my cousin Phyllis, I’m not sure I want to go through with it.
Phyllis told me about her husband’s recent cataract surgery, and how he regrets having had it.
“He’s so upset,” she said. “It was shortly after the surgery. I was in the kitchen and Al was upstairs in the bathroom when he let out a blood curdling scream. With my heart pounding in my throat I flew up the stairs, expecting to find him sprawled out on the floor. Instead, I found him standing in front of the mirror with a stunned expression on his face.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “What happened? Are you okay?”
“I'm old!” he cried out. “I’m friggin’ old.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked him.
“Look at these disgusting brown blotches all over my face. What are they?”
“Al,” I answered him. “For months I've been telling you to see a dermatologist and have those things removed. They’re Liver spots.”
“You don’t understand,” he whined. “I never saw them before. And when did I develop steamer trunks under my eyes?”
“You've had bags under your eyes for years,” she said.
“But, I never saw them either. I’m old. I’m really old. I’m glad I didn’t opt for the procedure that would allow me to throw my glasses away. I want my glasses. I need my glasses. In fact I’m never taking my glasses off. They nestle nicely into my bags, and conceal them.”
I started thinking how strange it is that no matter how old we are we never say, “I’m old.” Al is the first person I know to verbalize it. Everyone else says, “I’m getting old,” or “I’m getting up there,” but nobody admits to being there. If I weren’t concerned about causing mass destruction on the road, I’d never have my cataracts removed. I’m not anxious to discover that I have brown splotches and undulating jowls. I prefer to see my reflection through hazy, cloudy eyes that fool me into thinking I may be getting up there, but I’m not there yet.