Her tonsils have been gone since 1954. Since she has never understood what, exactly, tonsils are, she never missed them. And she also knows that after my generation, doctors seem to have decided that whatever tonsils are, they are not scary enough to have to be removed. So her children’s generation and her grandson’s generation are all walking around with something in their throats that, like, the appendix, used to be really necessary about 50,000 years ago.
Her wisdom teeth were impacted and so were removed in 1968 (no snide comments, here). She don’t know where they would have been anyway, because when she opens her mouth as wide as it can possibly be, she doesn’t see any spaces where more teeth could have fit.
Other body parts succumbed at midlife and beyond. LBL’s uterus has been gone for about 15 years. Since it wasn’t required to house a fourth child, LBL didn’t miss it. Her knee was replaced about one and a half years ago, and the doctor tells her that eventually, the other knee will have to go as well. LBL does miss her real knee. It allowed her to whisk successfully past the folks at airport security. Now, she has to get to the airport an extra 10 minutes earlier than she did before. She knows that after the alarm goes off and other passengers in the immediate vicinity swivel their heads and expresses visible relief that she is not holding an Uzi, she has to go through the drill of being patted down in public, something that she hasn’t experienced since college.
She has lost height. LBL used to be statuesque 5’2 1/2”. Now she is about an inch shorter. She still hasn’t figured out where that inch has gone, and she wonders why, if we have to lose inches, it can’t be in our waist. That simply doesn’t happen. She does tell people she used to be 5’9”. That makes her feel a little better.
Let’s not even talk about brain cells. There are times when LBL’s brain cell leakage approximates the current oil spill disaster, without anyone coming up with plans to pour concrete into the gaps in her head to prevent further spillage. Actually, she thinks the correct way of describing it is that some of the synapses between the brain cells aren’t firing correctly anymore. Others have made interesting new connections. This is why when she want to say “socks” she will mentally have to say “shoes,’ and “feet,” before the word “socks” appears.
There are other women my age who have fewer body parts now than on the day they were born. LBL has friends who have lost a variety of body parts, both visible and not visible. We all look sort of normal on the outside, and we rarely talk about the fact that we are slowly disappearing. The only thing that continues to puzzle us is why, if we are losing body parts, do we weigh more than we used to? It doesn’t seem logical. But, then we realize that as long as our mouths are intact, we can still talk, laugh, and eat. It would be a real tragedy to lose a mouth.