Can you explain something to me? Today my brother turns 60. How come that makes me feel old? He’s got me by three-and-a-half years. Why am I the one that feels old? As Dayna and I were driving to his party yesterday, I said, “I remember when my mother wasn’t even 60.” And then we got to thinking about it. My mother died a couple of years ago at 82, but she was only 46 when I graduated from high school, 49 when I got married. So my brother turns 60 and I feel my age creeping up on me even now.
Just last summer I was sitting across from my daughter and a college student at Camp Travis, a Christian Camp in Texas. My daughter has the most beautiful strawberry-blonde hair. And believe it or not, this college student (what do they know) had the gall to ask my daughter right in front me, “Where did you get your red hair?” I choked on my carrot stick, as Kristen replied, “From my dad.” So she looked at me, furrowed her brows as she gave my hair a quick once-over, shook her head, and said to Kristen, “You didn’t get it from him.” Yep, age is creeping up on me even now.
I wonder what it will be like to be old—you know, really old. I know what it’s like to be 50s-old, and I’ll ask my brother what it’s like to be 60s-old (insert snicker right here). But what’s it like to be 70s-old or 80s-old? In 2006 Good Morning America correspondent Robin Roberts decided she wanted to know what her aged mother was experiencing—she had watched her mom start to move more slowly, to struggle. And so she wanted to experience it—literally.
In one day Roberts aged 45 years. Skilled makeup artists shaped her face to look like an 85-year-old. A jumpsuit designed with special straps and cords was placed on her body that made her feel the muscle-aches and strains people feel when they are getting old. She felt tired the moment she put the special suit on. She suddenly couldn’t get up a few steps without a rail—even the cane she used felt wobbly.
She went to the grocery store to see how age impacted a simple task like shopping—they placed popcorn in a pair of gloves to simulate the crunch of arthritis. They smeared petroleum jelly on a pair of glasses so she could “see” what it was like to have cataracts. She couldn’t read labels, and making it through the store became a chore.
Holy smokes! Someone coined the phrase “Getting old is not for sissies”—by the time the experiment was over, Robin Roberts and her viewers agreed.
Well, I’m not there yet, thank God, but I’m on the way, and with my brother turning 60 I feel it creeping up on me even now. Maybe I should sit down for awhile. No, that will just get me there faster. I think I better go exercise or something. And maybe I need to pray Moses' psalm with more urgency: "Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom." I don't want to be both old and stupid.
Oh well, at least I can take solace in this: all things remaining equal, I may be getting old, but my brother will always be older than me—yuk, yuk, yuk.