I am not allowed to forget that I am aging.
Every day, simple, gentle reminders: a new gray hair, a hip that hurts ever-so-slightly when I sit cross-legged, the facial lines that were not there five years ago.
But this week, gentle nudges became prickly needles.
My husband’s aunt is on her umpteenth health battle and may not have the strength to make it through one more.
Both my father and my husband’s father were told that they had suffered heart attacks sometime in the last few years.
They are all in their seventies.
They are just 30 to 35 years older than me, give or take.
That I’d be blessed to have thirty more good years is a sobering realization. Yes, I live more healthily than my relatives. I’ve had the benefit of preventive care. But in the end, there’s a good chance that age 43, I’ve lived about half or more of my life.
The middle point.
I recall a night sometime around 1982, when I was 13 or 14. My friends and I had gathered for a sleepover at someone’s house. We were having a dance party. “Hey, Jude” came on and we all locked arms and sang the song at the top of our lungs.
While we were once removed from the Beatles generation, it was still an anthem.
So it felt awkward to watch Sir Paul McCartney take the stage at Friday night’s Olympic ceremonies. Drawn and old he looked. He still rocked a pretty nice version of the song, but the prickly needle came when the camera switched to the reactions of the smiling young Olympians, dancing and hugging.
None of them were singing the lyrics to Hey, Jude.
It doesn’t matter whether they didn’t recognize the song at all, or whether it’s simply “an oldie,” and not an anthem.
The song itself was irrelevant to them.
The song is past its middle point. Those Olympians are not its audience.
But it was symbolic. The passing of the Olympic torch is meant to mark the connection between the ancient games and the modern games – the handing off, if you will, between the old and the new.
And perhaps that’s what Hey, Jude was – a handoff from one generation to the other.
I am at the middle point of those generations, too. I am neither of the generation passing on, nor the generation beginning anew.
It is an odd place to be, the middle point. One’s body is conflicted – hurting yet still feeling 16 inside – as much as one’s memory alternates between being vividly accurate and utterly lacking.
There is nothing to do but find a way to comfortably settle in to this unfamiliar place. I know that for the next group of years – I’m not sure how many – I may be straddling that fence between age and youth, my one side gradually tipping ever-so-slightly toward the side of age until I eventually fall off and become officially Old.
I’ll know that moment not by the gray hairs or advancing pain in my hip. I”ll know it when someone of my generation takes the stage and sings OUR song.