I used to hate the way my face was falling to the earth, outpaced only by my thighs.
Once a lady asked the name of the chubby dog that was wrapped around my feet. I had to tell her it was my ankles.
The problem with growing old is that even though you still feel young in your mind, your body begins to crack and disintegrate like a human pork rind.
A few years ago, when I was 60, doctors discovered a tumor the size of Rhode Island growing between my brain and my ear canal.
“It’s an Acoustic Neuroma,” the doctor said.
I was pretty sure I bought that album in 1979.
Anyway, after a 13- or 14-hour brain surgery, I was as good as new.
That’s a lie.
I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. I couldn’t sit. Heck, I couldn’t even roll over. Half of my face was frozen and numb because the tumor had wrapped around my right facial nerve. Someone had fashioned a turban out of barbed wire and attached it to my head with steel beams and iron spikes which were driven into my skull and all tangled in my bloody hair. Wires and tubes were attached to my arms and other body parts. Had I been crucified?
On the upside, I was on some pretty mind-blowing narcotics so I was waaaay down the rabbit hole having tea and crumpets with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mother Teresa.
One thing I could do was laugh — albeit out of the side of my mouth with a gurgling sound and one wide-open, freaky eye that refused to close. I didn’t care. Did I mention the drugs?
Every few minutes a staff member would come to my bedside, ask me to squeeze her fingers and ask the same questions: “What’s your name?” “What day is it?” “Who is president?”
I had married twice, taken both husbands’ names, then reverted to my maiden name, then married again and did not take his name.
My mom had to down several 5-Hour Energy drinks just to write my names in the family Bible.
The first time the nurse asked me if I knew my name, my youngest brother quipped, “Oh sure, start with the hard questions.”
I liked to mess with them when asked the president question: “Taft?” “Weird Al Yankovic?” “Grant? Did the North win?”
Accomplishing one goal at a time — walking up and down stairs, gardening, driving, hiking up a Virginia mountain, making Fruit Loops for dinner — I recovered.
For the most part, my face came back, my wrinkles returned, and I no longer looked like I got Botox injections from a one-eyed physician.
I was so happy to see the deep lines return to my face that I made them a welcome home casserole with extra Oil of Olay.
Growing old never had looked more appealing.