Grateful 50

High up there on my list of New Year’s resolutions is to stop being so preoccupied with age … and in particular, my age. For too many years now, I’ve been using it as some sort of yardstick – a measurement of how I should be, when really all I want to be is who I am. One of the beauties of moving around so much and re-inventing my life over and over again was the mental process of rebirth I went through each time I moved to a new city or country.

Those I count amongst my friends range in age from 23 to 95 and yet, although I have no problem with other people’s age, I find myself regularly joking about my own: about increasing the average age in the room when I enter or pointing out that I’m old enough to be someone’s mother. What have I been missing? A recent (and extremely painful) visit to my accupuncturist fixed some loose wiring in my psyche to the point that I no longer ask someone’s age and no longer offer mine unless directly challenged.

Out for drinks this week after a very successful Gift of the Gab, that broad hunk of British, KF, stated in no uncertain terms that he was older than me. I can’t quite remember how it came up in conversation but I sensed that he, like me, is regularly thought to be younger than we actually are. He had that tell-tale certainty about his assertion. Not one to resist a challenge, I asked him how much he cared to wager that he was not. Others around the table told me I’d lose – they said he was older than he looked – way older. I handed over my driver’s licence and suffice to say that my favourite charity is now 10,000 huf richer. I was highly amused at people’s idea of old and how relative that is. And I was gratified that everyone showed just the right amount of shock and horror at their poor judgment.

As this week draws to a close and I struggle to decipher the mess that Hungary finds itself in and get a handle on the work that’s been piling up all week, I’m grateful to those who keep me out until the small hours of the morning and make me laugh and keep me young. I could be run over by a bus tomorrow… and then it wouldn’t matter how old I was.

And as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.


7 Responses

  1. Speaking of age, as one of a certain experience . . . I once read in Mikszáth (I think) that no Hungarian woman will admit to being less than 14 or more than 40 . . . So how does that fit your philosophy?

    1. So 40 is the magic cut-off in Hungary? I can think of at least two people who have themselves convinced that they are five years younger than what they are, and one who will never be older than 36. Mind you, I can also think of at least two stories where one or either party eventually discovered the ‘real’ age and there were ructions. No-one knows for sure how hold my mother is. According to her, she is not and never will be 70. And one friend of mine refused to have her age etched on her gravestone – hers is the only headstone in the village cemetery without a ‘born on’ date. I say each to their own, Bernard. For me, though, it’s too much trouble to remember the lies so best be honest… if I’m asked 🙂

      Mary Murphy

  2. I use to lie about my age but in the opposite direction, a tip from Billy Connolly. He reckons a 40 year old claiming they’re 25 just brings mutterings of “Christ, she’s had a hard life!” People thought I looked great for my age

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