When my parents were in their 30s and 40s, I started to think they were old. They would get up at 6:00 am in the morning, even on weekends. Dad listened to talk radio. Mom sanded the bottoms of her feet with sandpaper. Youth had me in its grip then--sleeping until noon, blaring my radio and never being tempted to do newspaper entertainment puzzles.
I recently turned 44. It’s not a celebrated age, like 16, 18, 21 or even 40. They don’t write songs like Rick James’ “17” or the Rogers and Hammerstein hit “16 going on 17” for 44 year olds. In fact, the only song about ‘44’ is a blues song written about 44…caliber gun.
I rolled my 44-year-old body over in bed this morning--early because my ‘body clock’ wakes me at sunrise every day--and for the first time, noticed what was on top of my bedside table. From the looks of it--my bedside table recently turned 44 too. There were 5 things on it: dry-eye drops, my ankle brace, a pot of lotion for very dry hands, an economy bottle of Motrin, and my bifocals. Am I one step away from a table decorated with ointments, a 7-day pill container and teeth in a cup? This present-day end table is a near-replica of the one I remember next to my Mom’s side of her bed.
I know the rest of the story: Fridges and cupboards filled with bran cereal, skim milk and prune juice. My medicine cabinets will be stocked with Metamucil, Geritol and Centrum “Silver.” My bathroom equipped with a magazine stand, a stand-up assist bar, and non-skid flowers adhered to the bottom of the tub so I don’t slip and fall.
I could fight it. I could put the age related items in another spot and decorate my table with fresh cut flowers, scented hand-lotion, photographs of my family and clever books. I’d probably feel younger. But when I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (another fun age-appropriate habit I’ve developed), and search for those things, without my glasses on, I could end up with muscle cream on my toothbrush. It’s just too risky.
I could buy a new end table, assemble it and place it next to my bed, hoping the fresh smell of pressed wood and galvanized screws will turn the clock back. But I have a feeling those ‘new-fangled’ end tables aren’t as sturdy as my middle-aged one. Those ‘whipper-snapper,’ put-together tables aren’t level enough to hold a lamp without shifting side to side. Tables these days...why, when I was a kid...
A crossword puzzle book on a store end-aisle actually winked at me yesterday...so I bought it...and put it on my table.
The transformation into my mother is now complete.