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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: My face is falling

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Columnist

My face fell while I was sleeping. I do not have any other way to explain it. I went to sleep in my usual manner, thinking I looked just fine but when I took a good look in the mirror the next morning, I realized my cheeks had become part of my neck and my neck was having no part of it. I am familiar with the phrase “turkey neck” but was really hoping it would not apply to me. Looking back in the mirror the words “jowl” and “gullet” came to mind, and not in a good way. While I asked for a turkey neck during the recent holiday, it was for the gravy, not for my profile. Upon further inspection, I notice the actual texture of my skin changing as well! What happens when I close my eyes to slumber?

The surprising (and increasingly rapid) sagging of my skin is gaining momentum. As my cheekbones draw down toward my shoulders, my triceps are moving toward my elbows. Other parts have followed suit. The obvious descent of chest to belly and belly just hanging about. At this rate, I will be reduced to a pair of cankles.

I agree with a character on a television show who announced, “It’s like I wake up in the morning to see what else has stopped working.” As I progress through this process known as aging, I am surprised about how much I am surprised about. I must have heard my elders discussing the slack skin, the spots, the general mutiny of various body parts, but somehow I suppose I didn’t think any of that would ever apply to me, so I paid little attention.

Had I given them their due, I might not have followed the cracking sound I heard with every step I took down the hall recently that turned out to be my ankle popping! Each day is a new adventure into what is still working and what wants to quit. Fully functional back one minute, unable to bend for the rest of the day the next, having made the mistake of reaching to turn on the shower, (or bending to put on my slippers or reaching for a pillow while making up the bed or putting on my socks). The back is a fickle one. It does not take much to upset it these days.

There is no outrunning age, but it beats not aging, for sure!

Beyond the daily aches and pains both old and new, is the reckoning with the aging process, itself.

Of course, there are those who fight aging the whole way – opting for facelifts and skin bleaching products, replacing knees and hips like inventory from an auto parts store – but I will not be heading down any of those roads. There is no outrunning age, but it beats not aging, for sure!

I am doing some of the things that one must do to stay in the game. I exercise regularly. I have a robust social life and a solid circle of supportive friends and family. I am working on eating a healthy and balanced diet.

And life goes on with demands of work and family, friends and community and it does not care much what the body thinks. Just as I was ready to slow down, the holiday season hit full steam.

Years ago, I remember my dismay when my mother decided she was not going to decorate for the holidays. “It’s too much work,” she said. “Too much work?” I could not fathom it. “How hard is it to get out the tree and hang a few ornaments? What about tradition?” I asked. She pointed out no one would be coming to visit that holiday and it just did not feel like it was worth the effort. I felt sad and did not understand.

Boy, do I understand it now. Life is busy! Trees are heavy! Decorating takes time and energy.

My home has a vaulted ceiling in the living room and as a result, my family has hunted and captured a tree in the eighteen-foot range for nearly twenty years. Now that the children are grown and living on their own, I have heard myself saying something like “This is the last year for a big tree.” And in each of those years, I have trudged out to the local farm with husband and some of the offspring in tow. And each time the eighteen-foot tree has come home. The trees are family lore and as our kids have moved on, they tell stories of the tall pines to their friends and significant others. The tradition continues. I would like to believe this is the last year, but I would be lying.

I look forward to the ritual of hunting down the perfect specimen, torturing the kids with Bing Crosby carols, and all that goes with the day. That does not alter how hard it is to haul it, get it into the stand, hang lights and ornaments and then pull out the other boxes of festive décor and set it up throughout the house.

Aging is not a fun process and there are aspects I cannot avoid, but other elements are simply about choice. When the kids call and ask if they can join us when we get the tree, there is no way I will not rise to the occasion.

Let me just pick up my face, and I will be right there.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.


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