Ijust had a birthday. A big one. Three-quarters of a century … auwe!
But if my mother were still here, she would dismiss me with a wave of her hand. I remember when she was in her 90s and mourning the death of a friend. “So young. He was only 86!”
If she were around, she would tell me that 75 is nothing. When she was in her late 80s, I watched as she carefully stood up from sitting on the floor.
“Aigu … getting old,” she complained. In my opinion, once we clock over 70, there’s no more “getting old” — we’re just plain old.
But I didn’t dare tell her and marveled silently that she could still get up from the floor! I, on the other hand, at the overripe age of 75, avoid going down in the first place because in order to get up, I have to roll over or scoot on my ‘okole to grab onto the nearest piece of furniture. Aiguuuu.
I know in some cultures, I’m supposed to be coy about my age, but I never understood why, nor am I one to spout silly-isms such as “50 is the new 30!”
I’m sorry, but 50 is 50, 30 is 30, and make no mistake about it.
Nor do I spend time in front of a mirror trying to make myself look younger because it’s a huge job. This is what 75 looks like, and even the most expensive makeup won’t change anything.
Some people go under the knife, but that’s just nuts. You want to know the best way to deal with it? Don’t look in the mirror! Unfortunately when out and about, I inadvertently walk past one. Glancing at the reflection, I say: I think I know her but… what was her name again?
While Dad’s mantra was “more makule more pupule,” Mom was proud of how she was getting up in years. She often accosted acquaintances and even complete strangers to guess her age. When they threw out a number like 70, she loudly announced, “No, I’m 85!” beaming as they protested.
She became indignant if anyone had the audacity to suggest that she must be dyeing her hair. I stood nearby smiling and knowing that with all my gray, they assumed I was her older sister. It made her happy, and none of this mattered to me because I always think that if you’re 60 but look 80, you’re still 60. And if you’re 60 but look 40, well, you’re still 60. But my mother would squint at my reasoning. “Hah?”
Mom went to Hilo Medical Center after her daily walk on the morning of her 95th birthday. My brother took her up after she kept patting her chest, repeating “funny kine.” Her heart was starting to give out, but by the time I showed up, she was her old self, fuming because the nurse who just scurried out of the room had offered her a container for her teeth.
“What you talking about? I don’t need no container. These are my own teeth!” she scolded, tapping on her pearly whites and scowling at the hapless caregiver.
Every year on my birthday I mahalo the gods and say, “Lucky to still be here.” And even though body parts are drooping, hanging on for dear life and even replaced, I’m glad to be experiencing old age for myself.
Gotta thank Mom for showing the way.
This is a shout out to Hilo High Class of ’63 and all other ’63 grads, in celebration of our 75th year. Imua!
Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com. Her column appears every other Monday.