Ready or not, aging happens

Clare Marie Celano

Well, it’s all over but the shouting now, folks — depending on how one perceives being eligible to receive a check from the government to either stay home and make potholders or book a Caribbean cruise.

In my case, potholders are the more likely scenario.

I received an email the other day notifying me of supplemental Medicare plans I should review to make life better for me in the future — the very near future.

Wasn’t it just yesterday I was moaning in this column about how it felt to receive that notice for an AARP card in the mail?

It has been a while since I penned a column for “Girl Talk.” The truth is that sometimes our stories must simmer a bit before being told.

And so it has been with me.

I have tried to write with honesty, and maybe that is why there has been little in the way of “Girl Talk” until now. Sometimes, being honest means having to reveal things you don’t want to reveal — even to yourself. Getting older is one of them.

When I began writing “Girl Talk” in 2006, I wrote about divorce after 50, coming into your own, dating and “starting over.” I teased about being past the age for an AARP card.

Now, words like Medicare, retirement, Social Security, pension, active adult living, and anything with the word “silver” in front of it — even vitamins — loom like a cloud waiting to swoop over me like a scavenger when I’m not looking.

But looking the other way will not change the fact that it is still coming — that Medicare card, ready or not.

Things reminding me of a changing “age-scape” are sometimes quite comical, albeit annoying.

Take Hallmark Channel or Cozi TV, which feature reruns of shows I like from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the commercials on these shows — aimed at those who watched them on primetime, like me — are blatant reminders of things people may need as they age.

Advertisements for bladder-control products, portable oxygen containers, Medicare, life insurance, catheters and tubs you can walk into are repeated incessantly.

I find myself switching to FX or Spike TV just to see guys blowing up things to counteract commercials that focus on men with no sex drive, breathing problems, lawsuits for bad medications, medical-alert pendants, life insurance, death, and of course, how you will pay for your time in the hereafter without burdening your kids.

The truth is that growing older holds no interest for us baby boomers. We are not prepared for it. We’ll only go as far as adapting to additional birthday candles — and it takes moxie, tenacity and sometimes downright grit to do that. Let’s face it. Weight control becomes more difficult; exercising, more tedious; and lifting weights, more risky.

I recently watched the film “Rocky Balboa,” and I was up on my feet air-punching with Rocky. I figured if “Sly” (then 60) could still bounce around in that ring, surely I could do a few go-rounds in my living room. Big mistake. I am neither Rocky nor Sylvester Stallone.

I pulled my right shoulder.

It is beyond irritating to feel the excitement inside you, only to have a “governor” halt you when you put it into play. And that, dear reader, is frustrating and maddening.

I believe I was reluctant to write my column because I was searching for answers to what scares me, what plagues my too-quiet nights, until I realized there aren’t any, unless someone comes up with a fountain of youth.

And I admit it: Vanity will never allow me to say, “My lines are the map of my life; I’m proud of them.” If I had the funds and guts, I would be first in line for the newest wrinkle plumping treatment.

I abhor not being young anymore, but am blessed to be able to “get older,” if that makes any sense. And “adapting” a little — or a lot — is the only way I can do it.

As boomers, admitting to our age and limitations is one thing, but giving in to a number and the consequences we think it may bring is another. That Medicare card may be on the horizon, but I am not signing up for the Atlantic City bus anytime soon.

I texted my best friend to tell her about the Medicare plan review. Her return text said, “Maturing is for grown-ups (and that’s not us).”Another friend — who hung out at Woodstock in August 1969, by the way — responded in conversation after a long, reflective pause: “We’re baby boomers. Aging is not a concept that is familiar to us. We don’t know how to do it.”

I see a theme here, folks: a Peter Pan theme.

And faced with choosing between Peter, who vowed to never grow up, or Wendy, who did grow up, Peter has got the better story.

Most of us boomers will hold on to Peter Pan’s philosophy as long as we can. We’ll adapt, revamp and do whatever it takes to “keep on keeping on,” as the song goes. We have to. We’re children of the ’60s, and baby boomers never give up. Claret Marie Celano is a staff writer with Greater Media Newspapers. She may be reached at [email protected].