The first step to growing old gracefully is to readily admit that you’re getting old. Yep, I’m in my 60’s, I forget stuff, I take twice as long to do stuff as I did 20 years ago, and I have wrinkles.

Betting on black Ilene

Betting on black

But, I have retained my sparkling personality and (relatively) quick wit and my hair (so what if it’s going silver?) has kept much of its natural curl. What more could a woman ask for? Besides a jawline that doesn’t resemble that of a basset hound, that is.

My husband George is 18 months younger than me. and he makes it sound like there’s 20 years between us. I keep reminding him that he is old as well. Frequently, he can’t (or selectively won’t) hear me when I talk to him.

If he has not known someone his whole life, or if they are not family and very close friends, he does not remember names. I try and tell him a story about someone and this is how it goes. Note that names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Me: So Mary and her husband Patrick just bought a place in South Carolina.

George: Who?

Me: Mary and Patrick. You remember them. He used to work at the college with you.

George: Never heard of them.

Me: Yes, you have. She’s tall and blonde, used to teach at (fill in the blank), and Patrick worked in (fill in the blank) department at TCNJ. He retired when you did.

George: I don’t know anyone named Patrick.

Me: Your godson is named Patrick.

We realize our age more when our kids are around. They are all in their thirties, and they are well-versed in pop culture, movie lines, songs, everything.

We are well-versed in nothing. They sit at the dinner table and have entire conversations using movie quotes. I at least know some of them (“That’s from My Cousin Vinny, right? or Bad Boys 2!”. George is just sitting there mumbling, “Huh?” or “I have no clue what you’re talking about” under his breath.

Georgie, Donnie and our daughter-in-law Michelle were over for dinner the other night.

Let me just insert here that it was supposed to be a combo birthday/Father’s Day dinner for George, but I had the wrong week for Father’s Day.

So now it’s known as Fake Father’s Day. We were sitting in the living room watching the Phillies game and Michelle starts telling us a story. She’s laughing so hard it was difficult (for we older folks) to understand her at first.

Short version: we had all gone to my sister Pam and my brother-in-law Ed’s house up in Phillipsburg. We left the party at the same time and were taking the same route home. George and I were cruising along (probably below the speed limit) and chatting. George says, “Oh, the kids are behind us.” So we both wave. We kept driving and didn’t think any more about it.

Turns out that Donnie, who was driving, had pulled up right next to us and Georgie was leaning out of the back passenger window waving frantically at us. We never saw him. Donnie said that Georgie’s entire torso was out the window.

According to Georgie, had he leaned out a bit more, he could have knocked on my window. Apparently, that’s how close they were. Michelle said they drove like that for at least 5 minutes. WE NEVER SAW THEM.

When they told us this story, I laughed so hard my stomach hurt, even the next day. You have to know our three kids to understand my stomach hurting.

When the three narrate a story, they accompany it with gestures and physical re-enaction of the event. The story was hilarious, but after they left, George and I looked at each other and reaffirmed our awareness of our aging. “Good grief, we are old.”

In my mind, I am still in my 40s. I am continually shocked at how old I actually am. This most frequently occurs when I look into any mirror or reflective surface. But, hey. I am thankful for every wrinkle, silver hair, every candle on the cake, and every laugh that life offers.

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.

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