Perhaps my kids have been filling my head with fibs, but when they tell me that I don’t look my age, I have believed them.
I come from good stock. My mother had gorgeous skin that she pampered to her last day, crediting her Native American grandmother for the strong, high cheekbones that kept it together. My father’s face was smooth, too. Neither of them had wrinkles. Talk about good genes.
But time marches on for all of us. And sometimes people don’t think before they speak. Like yesterday when the orthopedist’s assistant handling details of my daughter’s surgery next week used me as an example of someone who is old.
We’d already been waiting an hour when he flew in to the examination room, which was an issue in itself. Then he raced through the obligatory rituals, listened to her heart and explained the procedure they hope will free her from five years of knee pain.
You are young, he told her as she expressed fears. Surgery will be a snap. Rest for a couple of days and you’ll be right back at it. So far, so good, I thought. He’s convincing.
But some people just don’t know when to stop. He swiveled on his little wheeled stool to face me to ram his argument home. Not like if it was your mother here, he said. I sat up straighter. What?
Her knee is old and probably full of arthritis. Surgery on her would be more extensive. I bristled.
Why, my daughter asked, genuinely curious. Well, she’s been standing on it for a REALLY LONG TIME, he said.
I wasn’t so happy. Yeah, I have been standing on my knee for a long time, but it’s my knee and only I can talk about it. It’s also carried me steadfastly through my life thus far and shows every sign of keeping it up for the foreseeable future.
I doubt the man even realized what had transpired. I certainly wasn’t going to point it out and embarrass him. But I took a lesson from it, and used it as one to talk with my daughter.
It doesn’t hurt to think before you open your mouth when it comes to age, and every other subject, I said. I think you have a beautiful knee, she responded, offering a hug. I smiled. Am I young, too?