When she flutters her hands in front of her nose, I know that she needs a Kleenex (well, we use Puffs because they’re softer on her nose). When she taps her teeth, I know that she wants her flosser. When she reaches out with her right hand and opens and closes her fist, I know that she wants her cane.
She doesn’t always use her self-devised sign language, but she’s tending to do it more often — especially when she’s tired. And she seems to be tired more and more. The signs are often there. The words are often not.
On a sunny day last week, when I got into my car to go to the drug store, I flipped down the visor mirror to check for any stray chin hairs that my Tweeze might have missed. No chin hair — but what’s that??? Long white hairs in my eyebrows??? Now there’s a sign. Definitely a sign.
I’m not sleeping well, my reflux is acting up, and that contact dermatitis I get on my elbow every once in a while is itching like crazy. I can’t ignore the signs.
Signs that I need a break. I need a couple of days away from here. And so I’m going to my daughter’s from Sunday to Tuesday. It’s my birthday present to myself.
In two years I’ll be 70. It just doesn’t seem real to me.
Maybe it will seem real when my natural hair color finally grows in. Then I will see the most obvious of all signs — the gray signs of being where I am in life.
Each year, on my birthday, I take a photo of myself. Each year, the signs are more obvious — the drooping jaw, the sagging chin. There won’t be much of the gray hair visible when I take this year’s photo. But next year, there will be no denying that sign of this life fading to pale.
If I were able to live my life at the age I am today in the way I would prefer, I wouldn’t be obsessing so much on my age and what I am losing with each day that passes.
But here I am, watching for signs and missing those times when the only sign I looked for was the one that said “dancing until 2 a.m.”

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