Now That I’m Sixty-Four

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?”
When I’m Sixty-Four lyrics by Paul McCartney

Sixty-four seemed so far off when that song hit the airwaves. I was a senior in high school.

Forty-seven years later, here I am. Sixty-four.

And it just doesn’t seem that old. Not nearly as old as I thought it was when I was seventeen. Though, I’ll have to say, that when I write it out—sixty-four—I think that’s how old my parents are. The age that my parents are has crept up over the years. I used to think fifty was how old my parents were. A then eighty-year old friend of mine didn’t like going to the dining area of the elegant senior housing facility she lived in because she felt like she was eating with her parents.

I think this thinking is what Einstein might have been thinking when he came up with his theory of relativity.

It’s not so much that I feel old, or even that the grim reaper is breathing down my neck. It’s more like I know there is an end parenthesis out there somewhere. Not waiting for me so much as just there.

So what to do with the space between now and the end parenthesis? How do I be an older woman?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.

I attended a local production of song and dance the Sunday before I turned 64. I realized at the door that I was five dollars shy of the ticket fee and they didn’t take credit cards. A woman (older than I by maybe as much as twenty years) offered to loan me the five dollars—I could send it to her.

We exchanged contact information at intermission. Dorothy explained that she didn’t have an email address or any other form of electronic contact.

“There’s something to be said for that,” I offered. “Computers kinda’ make things hurry up a lot. One can forget about the grace of everyday living.”

“Yes,” she said, tearing off the account and routing numbers from a deposit slip. “I mow my lawn, take care of my cow, my dog and cats, and dance.”

She pointed to her companion, a rather frail looking man who had used a walker to get to his seat. He was sitting next to another grey-haired man.

“The man sitting next to my boyfriend used to play the drums for the Starlight Band. They play for the dances—big band music. You should come to one sometime.”

I explained that I was a terrible dancer, because I was a terrible follower.

“You just need to find someone who knows how to lead,” she said.

Then it was time for intermission to end.

At the end of the show, I thanked her again. As I drove out of the parking lot, I saw her close the passenger side door, then fold up her boyfriend’s walker, and place it in the back seat. We waved each other a good bye.

So there it is. How to be an older woman. Mow the lawn, take care of the cow and dogs and cats. Help your lover to the car, fold up his walker, and place it in the back seat.

And dance.

Note: Tom and I have made a pact that neither of us can be the one left behind. I don’t know how we will fulfill that pact, but it means we are in it for the long haul. Yes we still need each other, yes, we still feed each other physically and spiritually, now that we’re sixty-four.

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