When you are young and you’re running to catch a bus, you don’t know that someday you may get ill and not be able to walk. When you are young and you’re singing, you don’t know that you may get ill and not be able to talk.
I never ever considered the possibility of aging. It was something that happened to other people. I also never thought that I would get ill.
I have to admit (quite reluctantly) that I have some friends who used to get mad at me when they were sick because I was not compassionate enough.
Illness, for me – trained so well by my mother, was something you just need to get through. Anything else was an indulgence. “If you don’t have temperature you are not sick,” was the household rule.
In my family, you didn’t get sick and you did not get old – and being pretty was very important. For my family in Israel, it still is.
Very recently, I read the book “The Last Picture Show” for my book club. Club-member, Jay sent an email – an article from the LA Times, reporting on the 40th year reunion and screening of the movie based on the book. Since I click on everything, I found myself watching the interviews with director, Peter Bogdanovitch, actress Cybill Shepherd and other actors describing their experience filming forty years ago.
Forty years ago…
Bogdanovitch was a brilliant 31 year-old up-and-coming director with a promising career. Shepherd was very young and pretty… very pretty, that was her claim to fame. He cast her in the role of Jacy, the fantasy of all the high school boys. The girl everyone wanted. Bogdanovitch and Shepherd fell in love making the movie. He left his wife for her. They stayed together for several years. He had a penchant for falling in love with very young women… again and again.
But now? Oh my, did they look old. How odd then – looking so old, while being interviewed about how it was THEN; yet each making such an effort to maintain a youthful appearance. Here is Bogdanovitch spraying and combing his sparse hair; tucking his trademark scarf under his shirt -European style. And here too is Shepherd with facelift and who knows what else. One thing for sure: She’s not Jacy anymore.
How convenient it is to write about others.
I can look at their aging faces and think, “Tsk tsk, what happened to them?” I don’t have to look at myself with the same critical eye when I can focus my criticality on them. How convenient. I don’t have to think of the cracking sound of my bones and the aches of my body when I wake up; and the new pain in my shoulder (arthritis?) – and the fact that I am avoiding my mammogram.
In 31 and 34 years so many lives have come and gone; so many stories about birth, youth and hope and about growing old, pain and loss and of course, death.
I think about my parents who had been dead for so many years and a recollection comes to mind:
A couple of years before my mother’s death she was parading around in a new dress. I poked fun at her about walking like a fashion model – to which she replied, “But inside I always feel like I’m 25 years old”