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Pique n' your interest

The signs of age

I’m trying to think back to when I realized that I was actually getting older and I think it started happening after I hit the quarter century mark.

That was three years ago.

It was then that invincible feeling throughout my early 20s disappeared, forever I think, and left me with the cold realization that time is marching on whether I like it or not, and it certainly won’t be slowing down for me.

Forget the fact that friends were starting to get married and have kids, buying houses, getting mortgages and generally "growing up."

There was of course the discovery of my first grey hair.

It was immediately yanked out but there was a sinking feeling that this was just the beginning, that more and more were on their way and I was powerless to stop them.

Then there were the little lines at the side of my eyes. They were my laugh lines I joked, but deep down I knew they were the first set of wrinkles, crinkling up my face.

Worse than wrinkles and grey hairs though was the fading ability to party until the wee hours in the morning.

Throughout university I could do it two, three, even four days in a row, and still get up for class in the morning.

Now it’s just not worth it.

I’ve wasted whole days in bed, with pounding headaches, trying to stay perfectly still less my stomach revolt. Each time I promise never to spin the shooter wheel in Garf’s ever again. I’m just too old for that nonsense.

"We just can’t party like we used to, accept it," said one friend recently.

I seem to forget this all the time and pay for it dearly.

Maybe I’m just not ready to accept it.

I didn’t even think about the fact that as time was creeping up on me in some fairly insignificant ways, it was also taking its toll on those around me, mostly my parents.

For the longest time they just seemed to stay the same. Forty, 50, 60 – they didn’t seem to be changing too drastically over the years.

Let’s face it, when looking down the barrel at middle age from a youthful perspective, all the decades just seem to blend into each other.

They always looked and acted the same way to me.

And then this summer we got the news that my dad needed a triple bypass. The main artery to his heart was 90 per cent blocked. Sixty years of scoffing down bacon and eggs every weekend will do that to you I suppose.

What a blow.

I thought only guys on their last legs would need a bypass, guys with canes, fading memories and brittle bones. Old guys, not my dad.

"Well, your father is 60, Alison," my mum said. "He’s no spring chicken."

When did that happen? It seemed only yesterday that he was running around with a soccer ball every week or water skiing at the cottage.

Sure, the complaints about his various ailments seemed to be getting louder over the past few years. There’s his knees and his shoulder and his cold feet.

And let’s not even start on his increasing deafness – if the TV isn’t reverberating throughout the entire house, dad can’t hear it.

But now he couldn’t even take the dog for a brisk walk without getting pains in his chest.

And when did ALL those hairs on his head turn grey anyway?

It was a shock to realize that somehow, without me realizing it, he got older and apparently, more clogged up.

It really shouldn’t have come as any big surprise.

I should have known they were getting older. I should have been prepared.

There were signs all over the place.

Mum just retired this year, surely that was proof enough.

Then of course there were also the increasingly frequent gleeful phone calls about scamming the system and getting into a movie at the senior’s rate.

Being Scottish, saving $4 is apparently more important than calling yourself a SENIOR CITIZEN before your time.

The mere mention of a ski trip to Whistler has them up in arms. They would prefer instead to be on a cruise ship.

These were the signs of getting older that I was choosing to ignore.

Realizing that my parents were getting up there in years was a wake up call for me too.

There’s nothing we can do to stop it.

So, either I can choose to grow older gracefully, accepting each year as it comes, watching my parents get a little older each year as they enjoy their retirement.

Or I can rail against the unfairness of it all because truth be told, I don’t really want to see them get old.

The heart surgeon said he would attack the bypass surgery aggressively because of dad’s "young" age. He was true to his word, giving him five bypasses instead of the three.

Now he should be clean enough for at least another 20 years, provided he stick to his low fat, low cholesterol diet.

They say these bypasses are supposed to give you a new lease on life. You have a renewed energy and let’s face it, after having your chest opened and your heart pumping with the help of machines, you probably have a new appreciation for life too.

It’s just too bad they can’t turn back time and make you young again.