When I was 14-years old my beloved Grandmother turned 85. On the day of her birthday, our family hosted a small party for Grandma in the community room of her senior apartment complex. As the afternoon event was winding down, my sister, Barbara, and I sat chatting with Grandma.
Making small talk, we asked Grandma how it felt to be entering her ninth decade. Her answers were pretty much standard platitudes: “I’m grateful to be healthy,” “Happy to enjoy time with family,” and “Appreciative of this wonderful party.”
Then my sister casually threw out another question: “You’re 85 today, Grandma, but how old do you really feel?” Without missing a beat, she responded “28.”
“Twenty-eight!” my sister and I replied in union.
Her response had been so fast and so firm. My sister and I couldn’t help ourselves, we broke into laughter and Grandma good-naturedly joined in with a hearty chuckle.
How old do you feel inside?
Although we pressed Grandma to tell us more, she really didn’t explain too much other than to say, “That’s the age I feel inside.”
I remember thinking, how could Grandma with her thin white hair, wrinkly face, old-fashioned cotton dresses and stout walking shoes possibly feel like a young woman? After all, from the outside she was a very old person and her life was clearly winding down.
But obviously, Grandma saw herself differently. At the time, I found this funny and sweet.
Time marched forward. My sister and I became adults and Grandma’s life did indeed wind down. She died in 1975 at age 91.
Celebrating milestone birthdays
A week ago, I turned 60. A milestone birthday.
I’m at the age where I feel great physically and mentally, but my body no longer looks young. Often, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or see myself in a photo and think, Who is that old woman?
Yes, it’s me, but not the real me. The real me still feels youthful, vibrant and engaged. The real me feels 28.
Grandma was right.