Sixty-1

So tell me. What is this supposed to look like?  Well I think it’s different than how I remember my grandmother at 61. She wore support hose, those black heeled tie shoes, a dress that went down to her shins and she was “comfy”- meaning she had no muscle tone, large breasts and a substantial belly. All to lean into and cuddle and be hugged by.

She also died approximately 50 years ago from breast cancer. No hospice. No chemo. No round-the-clock nurse care. My mother did it all.

We also didn’t get to say goodbye.  You just did things differently back in the early 60s.

Now I am in my 60s. Hard to believe as I don’t feel “old” most days. I live in a retirement community where people walk, run, ride, golf, lift, hike. We don’t think of ourselves as “old”. But we are. Our days are numbered. We have less left than we have already lived. And that’s a hard fact to wrap my head around at times. There is so much more that I want to accomplish. I haven’t see Fiji yet. I haven’t swum the Roughwater two miler in Honolulu. I have yet to cruise Alaska with my husband and jump in and swim around the yacht. (Yes they do this.) I need to see the Grand Canyon from the bottom again and climb out. I need to climb so many more peaks- Mt. Humphrey’s in Flagstaff to be specific. There are triathlons in states and cities I haven’t been able to get to. I am not a grandmother yet, but hope to be someday. My daughter is planning her life and getting a career going first.  Good girl. But I am ready whenever she is to be called “grandma”.

And I won’t mind it one little bit.

Time.  Just. Stop. Now. (For awhile please.) Thanks.

Happy almost 61 to me.  I am far from done.

THE BIKE

No it’s not another IRONMAN race recap of the bike portion of a race. I mean, how can you really want to read about someone’s 112 miles of being on a bike? Let’s see…the course was a.) hilly b.)flat and fast c.)some of the worst roads I have ever laid a tire on.

I felt a.) awesome until mile 88, b.)I peed on the bike for the first time c.) I PR’d the course that I have never ridden on.

Excuse my snarkiness. But really it’s just about riding a bike and having fun. Right? Or maybe not. From some of the posts I read (and I don’t read a lot of blogs anymore as I don’t have the time, nor do they interest me as I have been riding bikes (not casually) for many years, but some people complain about how sore they are, how they hate hills and how damn HARD cycling is. I wonder then why exactly are you choosing this sport?  I love it. My bikes have taken me places that I could have driven to, but why? It’s so much better on a bike. I commuted to work and then to graduate classes after work for years in my lycra in the 80s. Went to work and then got in a 20 miler after work just because. We are surrounded my mountains. Would I rather ride up than drive. Hell yes. Would I still commute the 26 miles one way on my bike if it was safe (and a little shorter). Yup. But it’s not, so I don’t.

My first bike was pink. It was put together from parts of other bikes my parents retrieved from the local dump. I am sure before it was painted pink it was three or four colors. I loved that bike and rode the mile or so to and from school, to my friends’ houses on the weekends, over to the pool in the summer and just up and down the street because I could.

I saved my babysitting money later on for a “real” bike. A baby blue Murray three speed. I took that bike all over the countryside with a good friend of mine as we took photos with our ARGUS SLR cameras for photography class in high school. I would ride Route 43 into the next town (7 miles) to visit my boyfriend who worked at his uncle’s gas station. And then I would ride home. No helmet. No lights. My mom said “be careful”. (WHAT WAS she thinking???)

I was hooked at 16 and continued to commute into town to attend college. I remember riding in the snow to get to a 7:15 class one morning only to find out that the class was cancelled because of the weather. I found it incredulous that others couldn’t get to class when I had ridden there on a bike.

Long story short- road biking led to longer and longer rides and  I would ride 100+ miles on the weekends just “because”. I wasn’t training for anything in particular. I just loved (love) to ride. I still do. I bought a mountain bike at age 50 and actually prefer running into rocks and cacti over dodging cars anymore. It’s a different mindset, but I still love to “hammer” on my aerobars in a triathlon.  Riding a bike doesn’t make me special, and I hope to never be called “inspirational” because I am doing something that really doesn’t mean anything, except what it means to me. And  to me it means fun, fitness and freedom. Which I guess is a lot.

Ride on.

Saguaro

Or “sahuaro”…I have seen it spelled both ways, but the pronunciation is the same, so what’s in a spelling? Right?

There is an “old guy” outside of my bedroom window. According to the neighbors who have lived here many years before me (us), this cactus has been home to many birds. Mary, our neighbor, once chased a snake from the area as he was trying to climb the cactus in order to get to the bird’s eggs. She hit it with a rake, so the story goes.

This cactus has also been hit by lightning-hence the “funny” flat top it sports. But he has recovered and has grown new arms. We have been blessed with a hearty monsoon season this year, so Mr. Saguaro is currently “fat and happy”.  He has scars and pits and missing parts. But I imagine him happy.

I think of him growing here, small and hidden, enveloped by the nursing plants that surrounded him when he was just a seedling. They do that, these hearty, strong plants that can grow up to 40 feet and weigh a ton. They start small and helpless, but are protected by mesquite, creosote, palo verde and other plants. They eventually push them out of the way so that they can grow tall, reach the sun, stretch their arms (or sometimes just stay one upward-rising spear), until they surpass the parent plant.

I get to see my daughter in two weeks. I turn 61 in about three weeks. I have been both the saguaro and the mesquite tree. She is now the tall, strong spear that I have protected for many years.  She is reaching for the sun. She will grasp it and hold it to her heart.DSCN5439