Growing Up

Growing up. An odd phrase. Why “up”? Doesn’t grow imply “up”?

Cambridge Dictionary: “Increase in size or amount.” “becoming greater in quantity, size, extent, or intensity” also:
“having or showing life.”

1a: to spring up and develop to maturity
b : to be able to grow in some place or situation
c : to assume some relation through or as if through a process of natural growth

2a : to increase in size by assimilation of material into the living organism or by accretion of material in a nonbiological process (such as crystallization)

3 : to develop from a parent source

4a : to pass into a condition : BECOME
b : to have an increasing influence
c : to become increasingly acceptable or attractive

Synonyms are interesting to look at also, like these from

Advancing, aging, blossoming, consummating, developing, evolving, mellowing, perfecting, preparing, sprouting, sweetening.

Well, it is a well-used and understood phrase, so I’ll stop thinking too much about it and move along. The title owes its origin to a dear friend of mine who on a yearly doctor visit (I think at about age 60, though you wouldn’t know it–she was crazy fit) took along a list of a whole bunch of little things that had started bothering her. Her doctor’s response? “Well, *Betty*, you’re growing up.” (And no, Betty is not my friend’s real name.)

So, I’ve now reached the age where my husband assures me he’ll “still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine” and “still need me, still feed me.” I’ve started getting notices in the mail about the open enrollment period for Medicare. YIKES! Truly, I don’t feel old enough yet.

In fact, I’ve so rarely felt much of any age. I’ve usually felt like me, an ageless sensation of me. A person who loves bicycles, motorcycles, music of all kinds including new, cats, books, movies, sun, snorkeling, road trips, my garden, crows, and geese.

There are a few ages and dates that stand out. The first stand-out “coming of one age” was an early age. It was the red letter day when I got my very own first library card. I don’t remember my exact age, but I remember giving the librarian all my information, I remember her preparing my card and inserting the little metal bit that had my library number on it in relief. I remember the manila card stock and the way it felt in my hand and the way it slipped into the back pocket of my corduroys. I remember checking out way more books than I could read within their due date (yep, still do that).

Many years later, the next age? 18 you bet! I’d skipped school to join a big march in Seattle against the Vietnam war, now I was 18 and registered to vote. Turning 21 paled in comparison, truly. I still find myself feeling more 18 than any age. In fact that is the only specific age I remember.

In addition to relating to my library card holding self, my registered voter self, and all that was going on in my life during those times, how good I felt, the music associated with those times, the bike rides, the good reads, the great concerts, I sometimes feel in my 30s, I was pretty fit and had added running to the things I loved to do. Happily happily married. Fast forward to the day I might have been in my late 40s, 48? Well, I got pulled over on my red Honda VFR800 on the freeway. Seeing my white and yellow leathers, my yellow Arai helmet, my red sport bike, I think the State Patrol officer was expecting a “Felony Youth” stop. As the young officer walked up to me, I pulled off my helmet, my hair came spilling out and I grinned “Hello officer” at him. He blanched, I could read it in his eyes “My god I’ve pulled over my MOM!” As soon as he recovered he asked if I hadn’t noticed him. I agreed that I had, but as he was tailgating like crazy, I assumed all the traffic was going too slow in his lane. He intimated I was edging close to 3 digits and “blew right past me.” After emphasizing his tailgating (which I personally think is much more dangerous than simply speeding, but leaving 2 seconds margin between you and the next vehicle—and, yes, I know this was not the way to talk to an officer of the law unless I really was looking for a ticket) I did allow how I had suspected my speedometer might not be completely accurate. It was a lovely day. Perhaps he loves his mom. In any case, I got a warning and was told to get my speedometer checked.

So, here I am, now living in Ashland, Oregon with my husband and three wonderful litter mate cats, finally allowing myself time for a lifelong dream of writing that I pushed aside until, until, until… It is still important to me that even though they are both gone now, late as Mma Ramotswe would say, that I know even now, that “No matter what, mom and dad will always love me.” That the spirits of three wonderful female cats are watching over me. I still feel the child inside, the teenager, the young woman, I just don’t feel like a person that by the middle of next year will have to go on Medicare. It is kind of weird. I guess I’ve always been “growing up” but with a few exceptions have rarely felt any particular age. This Medicare thing is making me feel oddly set apart. I’m working on just shrugging my shoulders, saying “Whatever.” to “the system.” And saying “Get over it.” to myself. It is, what it is. And the good new is, I still feel like me with my first library card (incidentally, when we moved to Ashland my first official act was to get my local library card), my right to vote, and the girl on her bicycle and loving her Gaerne motorcycle boots.


Cambridge Dictionary


The Beatles, Lennon-McCartney, “When I’m 64”, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Parlophone, 26 May 1967, vinyl lp.

Thank you Alexander McCall Smith for the wonderful Mma Ramotswe and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

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