When I Am Old

Lately, I have found myself griping about being old, but it's only vanity talking. This weekend, I saw what old looks like. And I want some of it. We had a Ratliff-Major family reunion and celebrated the birthday of Minnie, who turns 90 in August. I started to refer to her as "Aunt Minnie," but quickly dispensed with that, as she is my first cousin twice removed, not my aunt. What's more, her own children and grandchildren call her simply Minnie, because "how much cuter of a name than that do you need?" Indeed.

Minnie retired from her pediatric practice in Chattanooga less than two years ago, after nearly 60 years taking care of children of every class and color. She went to medical school at a time when the secretarial pool was a high ambition for women, joining her male cousins in a strong showing of physicians throughout the family. She reminds me very much of Uncle Bob — the shape of her chin, her jokes, her direct manner.

Minnie uses a walker, but she thinks it was the skiing that did her knees in, not old age (she gave up skiing in her 80s). She is a bit concerned about Lu's allergies, and recommended something (Claritin? I wish I could remember because I need free medical advice). She thinks Milo seems just fine. She says it's okay if Jason and I have just two children, because we are busy, and the ones we have seem good. She loves music. She is doted on by her brood of bright, sweet, talented people — the kind of people I like to have as friends and am lucky enough to call cousins.

Minnie has done so much. And she is not done.

When I am old, I want to do all the things I love doing — loving, mothering, traveling, working, being a friend, cooking, exercising, making fun of you — until I am done. On my 90th birthday, I want to be by the creek in Wimberley, doted on by the bright, sweet, talented people I love. I need to check with my cousins first, but I bet you will be invited.