Great fun Phyllis. I might posit a few things here. As a 67 year old athlete, I agree with most, albeit I’m not sure that losing the waist is inevitable. It depends a great deal on the body type, and our willingness to move. In my case, I never had kids, and that goes a long way towards determining how we’re shaped, just as cancer sculpted you differently. I love your going away party. All too often we don’t take the critical time to mourn our losses, which gives them and us permission to move away and make room for what’s next.
Having just finished an eight day riding safari here in Kenya and being a very determined rider of camels, horses, elephants and damned near anything else that will tolerate me, I give a great hear hear to your point about letting the animal make its own choices. I’ve spent years in the saddle, all different kinds, and that has taught me to trust rather than negotiate terms especially when I am on a razor thin trail at the lip of Colca Canyon. The horse has no intention of taking a header. Leave him be. You could likely say that about a lot of life.
And given that I am Army, an athlete and an older person, I might add hear hear, Marines aren’t the only badasses out there. The assumption- driven by mass marketing and our abject fear of aging- that sixty is the death knell is ludicrous. I just took a spectacular faceplant off my lunging horse when she got badly stuck in the deep, thick African mud after crossing a hippo stream. The good news? I wear a protective vest these days (and always a helmet) so when she leapt over my body, all she did was clip my lower right leg. The protective gear did the rest, and all that came out of it was a good laugh and a bruise. I leapt up, brushed off and got back on, and off we went. This is what being an athlete at any age gives us: resiliency, along with the common sense to not take ridiculous risks, wear the gear and not bloody well worry about looking fucking romantic with our hair flowing out behind us, when the more important thing is to have a magnificent ride and come back in one piece.
Anyone can become an athlete at most any age, barring disease or terrible injury, but it takes a bit of dedication. As you say, one foot in front of the other. We get old because we allow ourselves to do so. Not because we’re old. But because we’ve given up.