Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yes We Can

An insistent Web ad got my attention last week. It was a photo of a handsome, gray-haired woman smiling broadly. Her calendar age, said the ad, is 60.2. But her biological age? 67.5! Yikes! That’s because she stresses about money, yaks on her cell phone in the car, eats red meat three times a week and DOES NOT TAKE A DAILY MULTIVITAMIN!

Others in the ad were smarter — and younger. A woman who was 32.6 by the calendar was really 28.4, because she walks her dog every day, eats lots of fruit and vegetables, has many friends.

I walk my dogs, eat breakfast daily, take my vitamins, quit smoking 18 years ago, recently lost 40 pounds and am crazy about my husband. I’ve often joked that I’m really 10 years younger than the calendar says. That joke comes in handy when you’re married to someone 17 years younger. So here was my chance to prove it.

Take the Test! Prepare to Be Shocked! says the RealAge ad. So I bit and clicked.

Good habits and great genes — all it bought me was four years. That still leaves me 13 years older than my husband, unless he takes the test and discovers he’s older than his real age. Not gonna happen.

So I’m not really as old as I am. But I’m not as young as I thought I’d be, either. And lately a series of accidents and ailments has rattled me, left me a little nervous, more careful about walking down the stairs.

It’s rattled Michael, too. He worries that our days of hiking and biking and dancing might be waning.

And there’s more entropy in our house. Every day, we watch Ozark, our 12-year-old Pyrenees mix, die by inches. We measure her decline by the swelling leg tumor, her slower progress from the back door to the lawn, the loss of her once massive bulk. In dog years, she’s older than I am.

So maybe I’m just thinking more about the inevitable failure of the body these days, and looking for ways to count backward.

Michael and I are both nervous about the coming years. But a long time ago I wrote down a piece of wisdom and have pinned it with a magnet to every one of my refrigerator doors since: LIVE YOUR LIFE AS IT COMES TO YOU.

So I’ll keep taking my vitamins, and I hope we'll be dancing for a long while. Yes, we can.

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