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Prudence Baird

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My Lovely Bones

Posted: 10/03/11 01:10 AM ET

I love my town. What's not to love about a place where the local doctor goes by his first name (Dr. Walter) and hand-writes notes to his patients?

Recently, one of Dr. Walter's letters arrived in the mail. I recognized the familiar scrawly handwriting that could only belong to a doctor.

"What's in the letter from Dr. Walter?" asked my husband.

"I have no idea."

"Shall I open it?" he asked, ripping open the envelope. "Oh," he paused. "You have osteoporosis."

Surely my husband wasn't talking to me?

I quickly looked around for Sally Field.

Moi, osteoporosis? A flying nun's disease? An old lady's disease? How could this be?

My husband handed me the note. Then I remembered the bone density test I'd had the month before -- after my vitamin D count came back in the single digits. Standing in my living room, with the late afternoon sun streaming in, I held the letter in one hand and steadied myself with the other; I had one of those "this is your life" moments.

By that, I mean the realization of some absolute truths. Like the fact that I'm never going to win a Nobel prize, an Olympic gold medal or run in a marathon. I'm never going to have another child or a goat farm. And there will never be a day when the first thing I don't do is reach for my glasses.

Of all the charges leveled at baby boomers -- and there are many -- the one I relate to most is that we refuse to acknowledge that our clocks are winding down. This isn't because we're creepy, like that guy in Death in Venice. No, we have mind-blindness when it comes to aging. I think that's why so many of us didn't remember to have babies until it was almost too late.

I remember when I was 39 years old, sitting in the obstetrician's office for a consultation. The phone on the doctor's desk rang in two short bursts. He held up his finger to me as if to say, "This will only take a minute," and took the call.

"This is great timing," said my doctor to whomever was on the other end of the phone, "I have a mother here with advanced maternal age."

Oh, the poor old bag, I thought, looking around for a wrinkled crone with a baby bump.

Only after he hung up the receiver, did I understand that it was I who was the mother with "advanced maternal age." My doctor had been speaking to the doctor who performs amniocenteses about me.

It's not that I don't know my age, and it's not that I don't feel my age, I simply don't believe it. So when I overheard my yoga teacher explaining to one of the ladies in my Tuesday morning yoga class that she likes working with older women, I thought, "How lovely that she's working with the elderly. They must really appreciate her efforts." Driving home, the glow of admiration faded as I realized she had been talking about my yoga class. About me.

The good news is that there are drugs available to slow the ravages of osteoporosis. And there are yoga teachers who are thrilled to be teaching a class of creaky middle-aged women the balasana, or child's pose. And the virabhadrasana, or warrior's pose. And most of all, there are my children who are always happy to let me know that even if I don't think of myself as aging, they certainly do. And they'll make no bones about that.