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What's AARP Got To Do With It?

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Having turned 50 recently, I discovered that for me, the transition was seamless from one decade to another. I didn't all of a sudden feel old. Sure, I've got more gray hair now than I did when I went from 30 to 40. I had a few wisps that showed up and disappeared almost the entire decade. This past year, more gray emerged and never vanished.

This doesn't bother me. My mother and my grandmother both had beautiful shade evolution. Mom had the Anne Bancroft streak for decades until she underwent and survived chemotherapy and her hair is now an amazing full streak show that looks like it would cost hundreds to duplicate if she had to pay for it. Grandma had a steel gray that looked like the battleship she was, strong, steady, consistent. Then almost overnight it went white, ethereal and pure, which was how I wished to see her age.

I know most women and many men my age dye their hair because we live in a youth culture. I will not do this. I am what I am. So much of our culture is about facade and we wonder why we are obsessed with deceit. When what is natural inhibits what is acceptable, there are bigger problems underfoot.

I'm curious to see how I will age via my hair. I've never been the kind of woman who believed her "stylist" when she said my hair was boring. I figured if this was the color I was given either through heredity or the higher power, then it's good enough for me. I personally didn't want the extra cost or toxicity added into my life.

The two times I did allow her to put streaks in my hair I felt artificial and superficial. I'm not a tiger. I'm never going to be a tiger.

Now my eyes are another story. It bothered me when I started having trouble seeing the small print. Then even medium print got fuzzy. When I had a full-time job, I spent $200 for a pair of glasses that I didn't really need. Apparently back then I still had perfect vision... but I was told I'd soon need those glasses with a slight magnetism. What a waste that was. I didn't need them and then when I needed assistance, they weren't enough. Now I have numerous pairs all over the house, at least one set in every room. They are different sizes... and they aren't labeled. This probably isn't smart, but at least I'm prepared for any size print and it only cost me a few dollars at the 99 Cent Store.

I've got a backache because the couch isn't comfortable if I sit for any length of time. My ears are sensitive because I wear earplugs all the time, attempting to keep others loud music and conversations from disturbing my more quiet flow. My pedometer measures steps the same as it did when I was 49. I still have to walk and have no better excuse if I'm not doing it.

The only thing that is making me feel old is that AARP came a calling. I've received literature in the mail before from them but I threw it away. Sure enough the envelope I received this week had a temporary card and an admonishment to pay the $16 within one month to the day of when I turned 50. AARP knows my exact birthday. I never told them. Now why must I join AARP? If it's just another magazine that is going to stack up unread or one I can easily borrow from my mother, I don't need it. From what I hear of others who have passed this benchmark, the other benefits AARP provides are also included when one is a member of AAA. Emergency roadside service I am willing to pay for, in advance, every year.

I have nothing against AARP. In my 20s I temped in their local office and liked the people who worked there very much. It's not so much that I'm no longer a joiner, but that I like to use my money effectively. I've heard we become more of what we are as we age. I've been called frugal before, perhaps now I'm just being cheap. But I'm old enough... as Bobby Brown says, "That's my prerogative."

I haven't been feeling old, middle aged or even my age until this week. It wasn't because I turned 50 but because now AARP is determined to get my money. I wonder if I tell them thank you but no thank you, they'll go away? Fundraisers never do.

Aging is about coming to terms with one's existence, one's truth and purpose. It is about understanding what the true priorities are in one's life and acting accordingly. It is possible to age gracefully. Some people do it like Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. I'd like to be one of them. If anyone knows for a fact that AARP's magazine will give me information on how to age gracefully that I can't find anywhere else, please enlighten me.

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