Shocked to Discover I Was Aging

From Rust
“From Rust to Dust”  Photograph by Sondra Diepen

 The first signs of aging began one morning in my early forties.

I was an elementary teacher back then. I use to spend my summers with my sister Donna and my longtime friend Linda, backpacking among the Minarets in California, exploring Grand Gulch and Canyonlands in Utah, trudging along the trails of New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness—partly due to our love of the great outdoors, and partly to exercise our muscles, stay fit, and keep up our girlish figures.

I was lying in bed on a Saturday morning thinking about how to plan my day. Should I wash clothes, clean out the chicken coop, or get out there in nature. Nature won as a reward for a week of teaching 6 year olds.

Still contemplating, I glanced over at my arm resting on the pillow and got an up close view of my skin. (Being extremely near-sighted can allow me to examine something two inches from my eyeballs.) “What in hell are all these little criss crosses I’m seeing?” They couldn’t be wrinkles. I’m only 43.

I lifted my arm up just a little, twisted my wrist back and forth and they got even worse. Horrors! I instantly put my arm straight up into the air and poof! they all disappeared.

Must have been seeing things.

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