Growing Old Is Not For Sissies

A photographer named Etta Clark published a beautiful series of books back in the ’90s called Growing Old Is Not For Sissies (I & II). The books feature photos of senior athletes along with descriptions of their lives. I fell in love with them (the books and the people within) in my twenties, then lost my fitness focus, got chubby, moved from houseboat to apartment… and the books got left behind somewhere.

On our anniversary on July 7, Dave presented me with a copy of the first book, and it seemed particularly apt, given the state of our cat Sesame (17-years-old, stick-skinny, fragile as tissue paper, and ornery as ever) and our upwardly trending ages.

This summer, in addition to starting our running program and shaping up our eating habits, Dave and I had to submit to medical screenings that become required when you hit 40. It’s a disturbing rite of passage. I mean, I try not to think about my own mortality, but it’s hard not to dwell on the possibility that more time is behind than ahead when you’re staring into the inner-workings of a mammogram machine, or taking the person you love most on the planet to the surgical center for a colonoscopy.

The headline good (great! awesome! fabulous!) news is that both of us are healthy. No signs of cancer in either of us.

I didn’t know I was worried about it until I felt the overwhelming flood of relief when I got the results.

I’ve been thin before. I’ve been fit before. I’ve committed to the Zone and worked out in the dark a.m. hours and skipped after-work cocktails in the name of good health.

And then I’ve slipped and slid and thrown caution to the wind in favor of Doritos and sleeping in.

A few years ago, it still felt like I had all the time in the world to turn that ship around. But now that I’m within reach of my goal weight and feeling better than ever (truly. Thanks, CrossFit family!), I’m finished taking my good health and the associated good feelings for granted.

Doritos? I can live without them. But Dave? Peace of mind? Happiness? My family? I’m not giving those up without a fight to the bitter end.

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