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Wrinkled, but happy  

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Sep 17, 2023 5:00 am

Let’s begin with the least-important question: Is it “ageing” or “aging”? I look it up on Wikipedia. “Ageing” is British English. “Aging” is American English. Since I studied at Maryknoll College run by American nuns, I opt for “aging.” Whichever way we choose, we are all living. 

I hate it when I get all sorts of anti-aging texts. True, once in a while when I have nothing to write about, I quote some of them. But in reality I don’t understand the fuss we make, the products designed and bought for those growing older by the day, the prices everyone pays to look younger. What is the big deal? 


Who isn’t getting older by the day? A baby grows older by the day. You can be any age—17 or 70 or 90—and you’re still getting older by the day. No one is exempt from growing older. We all suffer the same fate. One day we are born. On another day we die.

You think all of our lives are in our hands? Our birth and death dates are in the hands of God. We learn our birthdays from our mothers who gave birth to us. That happens very early in life. We never know our death dates. That’s the big mystery. We know when life begins but we don’t know when it ends.

No one is exempt from growing older.

Some of us are bored waiting. We wake up, pout our way out of bed. I’m still alive. Frown. I still have to fix the beds, clean the house, cook the meals, things I seem to do endlessly. Will it never end? One day it will, but when that is remains a secret. Now, fix your breakfast. 

I think I must have been born when my grandmother was in her 50s. I remember the big fuss my aunts made when she turned 60. “Now you have to take it easy,” they all said. “Stop going to market. Just stay home. Be careful when you walk. You don’t want to fall.”

She smiled in front of them all but when they left, she scowled and said, “I don’t know what they’re talking about. Let’s go to market tomorrow,” she told me. “It’s Saturday, you have no school."

Now I’m 79, 19 years older than my grandmother then. There are habits I’ve picked up from her. Once I used to stand very straight and tall in my three-inch-high heels. Now I’m beginning to stoop a little at the shoulders in my flats, like my Lola.

Once I used to party all night, get to bed at two in the morning, wake up at two in the afternoon. Now I’m in bed by 7:30, asleep by 8:30 and awake at 4 a.m. I used to need to be awakened at 6:30 a.m to go to school. Lola, who woke up at 4 a.m like I do now, would wake me up asking, “What time did you want me to wake you up? I forgot.” Now I understand her better. 

There are times when I meet my friends fully made up, dressed to the nines and bejeweled.

How does it feel to be 79? Better than I felt when I had to be at the office at nine in the morning. I don’t have a boss who will evaluate my performance and tell me I need to get to work earlier.

It’s not because I don’t have to work, either. If I wake up at four, I start my day at my computer putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I have just rediscovered them and realized that it’s a great way to start my day. They are complicated enough for me to concentrate fully, to think of nothing else except what I’m doing at the moment. When it’s done, I’m happy I put together such a great picture. Now it’s time to make my rosaries. 

I sit down with a clear mind. Last night I prayed for creativity. This morning I open my box of roses and choose whatever color jumps out at me. Then I choose what beads will complement the roses. After the rosaries I water the plants in my tiny garden, bathe, then prepare lunch. And the day goes on. 

There are times when I meet my friends fully made up, dressed to the nines and bejeweled. I use my store of makeup that I am dying to finish so I can forget about how to shape my eyebrows or make my lashes look longer. But I have so much—gifts received from my students and friends.

I dress in my Lazada dresses, all below P500 and bejeweled with either inherited rings and pins from my mother or jewelry made by me. I took jewelry making classes once. Never could sell much jewelry but very successful at my rosaries. Another surprise from life. 

I am 79 but I don’t feel old. True, I am forgetful sometimes, but give me a few days and I remember. The important thing is I am wrinkled but happy. I laugh a lot and I am still alive!