The other night I watched Betty White’s 90th Birthday Celebration. I watched because I admire Betty White, her successes, her humor, her endurance. How wonderfully she’s aging. 90 years old, and look at her! She has her own TV show(s), she guests on many shows, she’s intelligent, lucid, active. If I could grow that old that way, it would be worth it. It would be wonderful.
Oh, I’m sure she’s had some work done. It seems to be what you do when you’re a star (although Judi Dench doesn’t seem to have fallen into that). But not to the extent some have – Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, for instance. While I love both of them, I think they’ve gone a bit overboard. I think they are not aging quite as gracefully as Betty.
Aging is tough, sometimes. My biggest fear about aging is becoming a burden. On anyone. If I am a burden, I don’t wish to exist anymore. If I can’t do for myself, what is the point anyway? The wrinkles aren’t important, nor is the sagging skin. Well maybe it matters a little. I am not without vanity, after all. A wake-up call was when I complained to my son that a picture he took showed my wrinkles, vividly. He responded with “Mom, you have wrinkles!” Oh. So we’re going to talk reality, are we? Fine, just fine.
The advantage to aging is that my emotions run more level now, I am more mellow. That’s not to say I don’t get angry, or excited, or passionate about things. But it takes more to set me off, little things don’t bother me nearly as much. Another advantage is that there are certain things that are no longer expected of me, because I’m not young. I needn’t carry heavy packages, I needn’t climb tall ladders, I needn’t give up my seat on public transportation. Unless I choose to. I can be grumpy, if I choose to. I can wear purple dresses and red hats, and I can drag my cane along an iron fence, enjoying the racket (or I could if I had a cane, or knew where there was an iron fence). I can spend my pension on wine (a bit of paraphrasing there). I can be all those things Jenny Joseph so eloquently expressed in her poem “Warning – When I am an Old Woman I shall wear Purple”. And more. I can be just what I want to be.
And what I want is to be able to age like Betty White, complete with bawdy humor.