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Forever 81




I’ve never lived a balanced life.

I excel in one or two things and flunk the rest. Never have I done anything in a straight line.

Why are old people always wearing socks?  Because the extremities—feet and hands— are always feeling cold due to poor circulation.

Why do people get crankier as they age? Because there’s always some discomfort going on in an old body.

Why does an old person’s back seem more crooked when he/she is being pulled by a younger person who is leading him/her?

The patient only seems more bent because she has to keep pace with the younger guide ahead of her whose hand she is holding. Actually, no matter how slowly the younger person walks, it is still too fast for the old one to catch up. So it looks as if she were being pulled.

Why does one’s mouth begin to develop wrinkles (pucker lines) around it faster than on the rest of one’s face?

Because we slather our face with moisturizing lotion only once after washing up. But we soap around our lips after every meal and snack and each time we brush our teeth. So it dries up and wrinkles faster.

Why does a new housemaid, no matter what province facing the Philippine sea she comes from, automatically set the table with plates top side down, and drinking glasses and silverware, too?

I am asking this of Mariel, who is in UCC café with me. She is attacking a tiramisu and is annoyed. To protect them from flies, ano pa?  she says.  But, I object, don’t flies alight on the rims of upside-down glasses, and upside-down spoons and forks, and do knives have an upside down?

And! Why isn’t it of national concern that even experienced help will backslide into serving a slice of pizza with a spoon, or puto and a butter dish with a teaspoon?

Eat your salad, Mariel says, it’s got a fork.

Papaya trees

Do you know why papaya trees are planted in convent yards? I ask. Yes! She glares.


My young maid paints her nails black, purple or red. Why do you allow your maid to have a manicure? asks a conservative relative.

Why not? She scrubs and waxes the floor, washes my clothes and the dishes, how can I deny her a bit of color?

Nanawagan po! Sino sa inyo ang nagdala ng dalawang malaking matamis na honeydew melons sa balay ko?

A guy, described as “wearing glasses and straight hair,” gave them to my son’s driver.  He didn’t leave his name nor did the driver ask. So I don’t know. Thank you na lang, whoever you are. You are as sweet as your gifts.

Last night I looked at myself in the mirror, in horrible pajamas and no makeup.  There were two lines between my brows, two deep crevices from nose to edges of mouth. Pucker lines all around my lips. My two chins and my cheeks sag, my neck is turkey. I can hardly walk.

I like the way I look. Old. It will be easier to draw a portrait of myself. If some friend thinks I look younger, I glow. But I know deep down, they just mean I don’t look 82, more like 81 because my skin still remains supple. They praise my (inherited) skin and the vegetable juice that nightly maintains it. I like it when they scrutinize the borders of my face closely to detect possible surgical marks or whatever, that betray plastic surgery. Hehe, there are none.

At my rehab in Capitol Med, I have progressed from heat therapy, nerve stimulation and bed exercise to the parallel bars.  I stand between them and learn to resist being pushed, back and front.  I am made to raise a foot front, side and back.  Easy.  I get to throw a beach ball at a handsome PT.

But the final exercise, which seems so easy for most, is something I can never do.  Walk a straight line on the floor. Somewhere along the way I always lose my balance.

As always, I try to correlate it to my life and it dovetails perfectly. I’ve never lived a balanced life. I excel in one or two things and flunk the rest. Never have I done anything in a straight line. Sometimes I stray here to follow a butterfly, there to kiss a loved one or to pick up a pretty leaf. But I never lose sight of my goal and seldom do I not reach it, detours notwithstanding. It is the only path I know. Deviant. You do your exercise and all other things as you conduct your life, amen.

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Tags: Aging , aging gracefully , Balanced life , growing old , Old Age

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