Growing old is no big deal

By Manuel Garcia Calleja as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles

old-handsSome people make a fuss of getting up from bed one morning and asking the mirror ‘Who’s the fairest of them all?’ get jolted back with the answer, ‘ You are. But that was yesterday.’

Wrinkles and eye bags, scraggly white hairs, double chins, puckered lips, sagging neck folds, rheumy eyes, bulging stomachs, dry ridged skin. Add sore joints, aching backs, can’t get it up, the juice drying, among other signs of years piling up and fast.
Not enough reasons to see the Grim Reaper ahead of schedule. There could have been instances, though, when mirrors are screamed at as liars and smashed to smithereens.

The Lothario of our little barangay dreads the day when the cute office mate begins to sidestep him at the corridor. When the bored housewife next door now gives him the evil eye every time he makes eyes at her. When the charming tindera at the neighborhood store, the chic salesladies at SM, and the brisk-moving counter girls at Chow King all stop addressing him ‘Sir’ and start calling him ‘tay. Of course, he could still make it with the ladies of the night at the dimly-lit corner of a honky-tonk where everybody looks like mere shadows and appearances do not matter.

The pretty and handsome showbiz stars today will start losing sleep several tomorrows later as prettier and handsomer newbie stars enter the scene.

Good if they have the acting savvy of a Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson and our own Gloria Romero and Robert Arevalo.
But if all they got are Kardashian genes, they will just grow white hairs and add pounds over the years and eventually end up old nobodies.

Except the informal settlers along the creek who, ha-ha, all look old anyway, getting old, being old, and being told old are conversation no-nos. They may not admit it, but people at large are afraid to grow old.

Big business know this. And so they flood the market with what they peddle as miracle products that challenge Father Time.
Dyes to turn white hairs to lustrous black. Concoctions to stop hair loss. Magic wrap-arounds to trim bulging tummies. Procedures to tighten sagging limbs, erase age-related blemishes. Lathers to whiten skin, armpits. Herbals to uplift the body. Spas and rejuvenation clinics abound.

As if aging can be stopped in its tracks.

But like death and everything else in this planet, aging is inevitable. We’ll just have to accept how we look, what we see in the mirror the morning after.

A lot of us face being old quite very well and with aplomb. May even put to shame the young.

Like Oscar Lopez, top honcho of the Lopez Group of Companies who, at 85, climbs mountains. Gives him, he says, a ‘sense of fulfillment.’ Issa Marino, 56, whose dancing is her ‘fountain of youth.’ Eufrocinio Hular, Jr., 53, who after making sacrifices for his family while he was younger, now is making ‘his own dream come true,’ sitting in a classroom, not to attend PTA meetings but as a pupil. And Maura Sanchez, 58, like Eufrocinio, got to sit now also on a student’s desk (she’s taking up Alternative Learning System) not being able to go to school before because of poverty when her widowed mother could not even afford to buy her a pad of paper.

Me, I have accepted being old. I am not irked or offended being told I’m old.

How am I doing? I don’t stay cooped up at home counting the days on the calendar. Daily I walk to the end of our little barangay and back to pick up the day’s newspapers. I join activities but please not with other oldies. No corner store senior groupings reminiscing the good old days for me.

Along the way to get the papers I pass through the barangay sports complex and gets a big kick watching the young boys and girls play basketball, volleyball, or just horse around.

Of course, the heart flutters every now and then but it’s more ‘ligaw tingin’ na lang. I know I am over the hill and nobody says it more succinctly than the pretty librarian who calls me ‘lo with her rolling eyes and the neighborhood budding beauty dalagita who calls me ‘tay with a pout.

I take regular rests which Tony Scwartz, chief of the Energy Project, recommends to give me the energy and focus on what I am doing at the moment. Could be writing, however I labor at every word doing so.

I don’t envy Sakai Momoi and Misao Okawa, if all they say about them is that they hold the Guinness World Recond as the planet’s oldest male and female at 111 and 116 years, respectively. I’d love to be told, though, how they have lived their earlier years.

The owner of the newsstand, a close friend, let me read all the papers he vends. It amused me no end reading that among us, those right up there, there are those who have grown old but have not grown up, as in di tumanda, or tumatandang paurong.

Once, on a jeepney ride going to Cuibao, the driver looked hard at me as I gave him the 7peso senior fare. ‘Senior ka ba talaga? Tignan ko nga ang Senior ID mo?’

Now, if that is not a compliment, however grudgingly given…

Aging Gracefully, By Sara Grace Fojas, Manila Bulletin, Sept. 16, 2014
In Brief, Manila Standard Today, August 21, 2014
A Recharge for the brain, New York Times International Weekly, Sept. 22, 20l4

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