(This photo has been aged using the St Andrew Face Transformer, which is fun, and I recommend it.)
Dear future Old Me,
I'm writing to you from the past because I need you tell you a few things, and I think it's best if you hear them from someone you trust, Yourself. Time happens. It happens to all of us, and now it's happened to you. You're old. You're still mostly excellent, but you're crusty and maybe in denial about that. Shush, don't argue with me, Me.
Me, I'm telling you, that lack of bladder control that began after you carried those huge babies, that shit isn't funny anymore. It's no longer cute and relate-able the way it was, crossing your legs when you giggle. Now you're just urinating on yourself. It's become a thing. It's a smelly, awful thing that scares the grandchildren, makes your children unbearably miserable and causes everyone to take separate cars. People are applying scented lotion in your presence. Seriously, you smell like a cat box.
Listen, Me, no hankies. Not ever. You must blow your ever-growing, old person nose into a disposable tissue. Period. The environment has offered to take this one for the team. Hankies are good for gallantry, for blotting tears at a funeral, for poking jauntily out of suit pocket in old-timey photos. They are not for honking boogers into and folding back into your pocket. It's nasty. Don't do it.
Remember, Old Me, you need to spoil everyone. It's your job. Your retirement plan. Your legacy. Inevitably, your grand kids will love you way more than your own children, but you must remain even remotely in touch. Your own kids will find you irksome, but your grandchildren will find you miraculous and novel and of anthropological interest. But you have to find them equally so, or the whole system breaks down. If you don't take an interest, they will not take an interest in you, Me.
Babysit often. Bring gum.
Recognize, Old Self, that your grand-babies become grandchildren and then grand-people, and then just regular adults. Stay with them through these changes. It's OK to be slow, but do try to keep up. Don't begrudge them their technology - it's not their parent's fault. Your kids are not over indulgent assholes because their kids have cell phones or iPods, or by the time you're reading this, rocket propelled skate boards and skull-implanted hologram projectors. It's the culture and it's their duty to take part in it. Don't reveal yourself to be an analog bummer. You can talk about that stuff, if you must, but don't sound superior and shake your head as they open their Christmas presents.
Assume always that you have bad breath and that your clothes smell bad. That's a solid baseline from which to operate. Even if it's not the case, assume that it is. Overcompensate accordingly.
Bear in mind, antiquated Me, that presents are good almost any time, for any reason. Don't hold back. Remember how your own kids would wiggle with excitement when you came back from a trip? Apply that to your grandkids. You will win them with merchandise and you don't need to feel bad about its superficiality. Also, kids like to get mail. Provided we still have a postal system by the time you're reading this, and are not instead telepathically mind-melding, put a stamp on something, put it in the mail. There's nothing quite like it for a kid. Gaily colored envelopes are a bonus, but not mandatory.
Old Crotchety Me, you have to show up for all your kid's stuff, and then all that grandkid stuff, even if it's boring, embarrassing, endless, treacly or gives you heat rash because that gymnasium is heated to 97 degrees. Being there equals love. Not being there equals abandonment. Ask a lot of questions, then ask some more. One day, when they've emerged from their own magnificent assholes for a look around, they'll think to ask you some. That will feel good, but don't get greedy, Old Me, be patient.
And, Senescent Me, it's probably best that you stop driving at some point. Let someone else handle that. You were once an excellent driver, but no longer. Even with corrective lenses, you are probably a danger to others. Keep assessing those driving skills objectively. You could once do a cartwheel too, but that doesn't mean you should do one now.
Always have good things in your purse. These can include collapsible reading glasses that fit in a tube, Tic-Tacs, a tiny notebook and lip gloss.
Old Me, listen up. It's ok to groan a little bit when you get out of a chair, because those moves take some doing, but if your groan becomes in any way orgasmic or death knell, you have got to stop it immediately.
This is so important, Me. You must bath each and every day. You can no longer afford to skip a day, (if you ever could) and while you're at it, apply good smelling powders and tonics. Every day closer to the grave is a smellier day. Plus, you are no doubt dry as a corn flake, so lotion is just good management. In general, on the subject of hygiene, don't be one of those denial old people who can't acknowledge the goiter, the comb-over, the pee stains, the lung disease, the too-long fingernails, the yellow toenails, the bad dye job or the body odor. Your own kids will have your back on these things if you establish that communication early and without malice.
And Me, if any of your body parts become removable -and by the time you're reading this this might include interchangeability - never, and I mean, never, remove or replace them at the table. If you can't work with what you've got over the course of a meal, then plan ahead and take it out or off, before you get to the restaurant. Remember how you'd scold the kids for leaving their retainer on the tray? Same goes for you.
Remember, Reminicing Old Me, that this era that I'm writing to you from, isn't really better than the era you are now in. It just seems that way from a distance. You were just younger and things made a big impression on you. Some things might actually have been worse, even if some things were objectively better.
If, when you're reading this, the entire earth is smothered in plastic goo and everything has been renamed China, remember that you have only yourself to blame. When everything you touch breaks instantly, poisons you and cuts off your thumbs with it's crap manufacturing remember that you could have had less good shit, but you chose more cheap shit instead, and that's all your fault, Me.
Mostly, Me, I want to remind you that you are old and therefore, in my eyes, a rockstar. You've earned a right to be cherished, to be heard, to be cared for and appreciated. However, this earned right is not a God given right. Its more like a license that can be extended indefinitely but revoked at any time. You must keep your shit together. Don't become cranky, old you. Because, let's face it, you've been cranky for a long time. Maybe too long, already. So don't just become that. Remember to experience joy. Not to be rash with your future. Keep saving money. Make good choices. Assume the worst early on, and be grateful for all the good. This, right now, this moment, is the best it will ever be. Look around. Doing so will keep your neck muscles limber and also provide a view.
I love you, Me, hang in there.