The Summer of 61

 I turned 61 this year and the symptoms are settling in nicely. For example. A few weeks ago I twisted my knee. It didn’t happen during Zumba, where we contort ourselves into every possible position while moving to a Salsa beat. It happened, sadly, and with a hint of cliché, while I was weeding the garden.

My inner self, the real me, has immense energy and a sunny outlook. But my body insists on remembering every dumb move it ever made. Every klutzy moment and resulting injury insists on making a fuss long after it should be over. Ahem, they say, fighting for the turn to speak. Remember me? Like two years ago when I jumped off the garden wall and told Clarence to catch me. My back was out for three weeks. His fared slightly better. And remember when sun screen wasn’t invented yet and fair skinned people got sunburned so badly our skin looked like a futuristic dystopian plague?

My body has imposed martial rule over my dietary choices. No bread. No sugar. 85% chocolate for a treat. Lots of salads and healthy fruits and vegetables and not a lot of beef. Hardly any junk food, unless you count a few rice crackers every now and then. Because I get hives if I break curfew. And anemia. What, you may be wondering, is my payment for all this good behavior? Twelve pounds. A twelve pound gain in one year. But no hives, and I feel healthy, so. Sigh.

It’s annoying how my outer self refuses to match the inner me. My dad warned me about this. “One day,” he said, “you’ll wake up, look in the mirror and wonder who that stranger is.” I’m not quite there, but when I get out of bed in the morning and walk like I have no joints in my legs, I understand a little of what he meant. On the other hand, if I was born in the early 1900’s, I’d have been dead ten years ago.

So. I will continue to count my blessings every day. I will remember that my mother lived large until the very end. She wasn’t one to dwell on aches and pains. She didn’t remember much about menopause. We didn’t worry about that, she said, and couldn’t understand all the fuss about childbirth, either. Women of her generation just got on with it. That included grieving. I should have paid better attention when she lost her parents.

I will remember the summer of 61 for many reasons. For the day I buried my last parent. For coming to terms with my own mortality. And of course, for the army worms marching through our small town. But that’s a complaint for another day.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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