"Getting Old" by Pamela Radbill

Some days are worse than others, of course, but I feel the changes so acutely as each year passes. Sometimes it makes me quite sad. I am not what I once was, you see.

When I was young, the family lived in a big home with lots of rooms to accommodate all the brothers and sisters, which seemed to arrive on a regular schedule. I used to run and play, roughhouse with my siblings outdoors . . . I loved the freedom I felt when I ran. I was a natural. Everyone said so.

We weren't rich, but we always had plenty to eat, and there was always good company around. Of course, a large family often relies on the help of a nanny, as we did, but Momma and Poppa both helped teach us.

I remember the early days very well. We had so much fun. And with the many lessons we learned from our elders, we survived.

But, over the years, most of us moved from the country and did various other things . . . I ended up in the city. At first, it was a bit of a shock, but once established in my new home, I think I adapted quite well.

Oh, my interests expanded like crazy . . . A new kind of education began for me. I did so many things, went so many places . . .

There was church and brunch on Sundays, of course. That was always pleasant and relaxing . . . A nice quiet time, but social. I liked that, although it always felt a little early for me. I preferred being active later in the day. My whole family was like that. Must be in our DNA.

I enjoyed book club and bridge with my friends, too. Our group really became quite close. There were meetings, committees and so on. I didn't always attend, but I found them tedious when I did. We frequently went to concerts, which I liked, cocktails and dinner, the usual . . .

But I think the times I enjoyed myself most were the mornings we would take the train into the city, enjoy a gossip over a divine lunch, and then . . . ! A matinee.

Oh, we saw serious plays, musicals, comedies . . . Some of them were better than others, as you might expect, but those hours spent at Wednesday matinees were sometimes the highlight of my week, my month! And I learned plenty . . . Everything from Shakespeare to Mike Nichols. I loved the theater.

Years later, after the husband died, I was moved to quarters that were sufficient, I suppose. But worldly things began to move so quickly, and just at a time when I was beginning to lose my luster. I felt very much out of place. For instance, people eat at the most ridiculous places . . . No civilized brunch . . . It's pancakes at IHOP with grandchildren. Whipped cream and crayons all over the table! They will never know how to conduct themselves in the world.

But it's just as well, I suppose. The bright sun and a pool are the last things I need.

Oh, I had an exciting time a few years ago, when I actually got to be in a play! I looked pretty good, and my red hair still shined bright under the lights. The excitement was enough to make me feel young again . . . If only for two hours. But that only happened once.

I mostly stay in the dark now, try to keep dry under my cotton shawl . . . Ironic I should need a shawl. I wait for the children to celebrate Halloween or play dress up, and out I come, to be draped over someone's shoulders, dragged around on the floor . . . But my eyes still shine bright, and my red hair is not so much faded that you can't tell I was a fox who went places.

Pamela Radbill was born in western Pennsylvania, where she dreamed of travel, tended a love of learning, and kept a pet crow.

She raised two children in historic Philadelphia, blocks from the Liberty Bell. Retirement took her across the country to begin a new life in Davis, California, where she continues to enjoy meeting new people and trying new things, like writing stories.