Dear Tracey: Here’s one for you. My mom, who is 77, wants to get her “eyes done,” done, meaning plastic surgery. She says her droopy lids are affecting her vision — yeah, right — and that the puffy skin under her eyes has bothered her for years.
She actually told me all of this after she’d seen the surgeon. I guess she knew I wouldn’t approve. I can’t believe she’d spend the money on something like this. Obviously, her Medicare isn’t going to pay for any of it — why should they? I know she has the money but what a waste, right?
She’s always been vain. I don’t understand why this is so important to her, especially at her age. But she’s always worried about her appearance. My parents divorced years ago and she’s been single ever since. I don’t know who she’s trying to impress now. She says it’s to help her see better and to feel better about herself, that her health is still good, she’s still active, and that she wants to look in the mirror and see the person she “feels” she still is.
I know she’s arranged for someone to help her get to the surgery and take care of her afterwards, which is good. I can’t take work off for something like this. I guess there’s not much I can do but don’t you think it’s kind of silly and a waste of her time and money? — Signed, Baffled Daughter
Dear Reader: I read your email a few times before I began writing my response. Not because of your mother’s decision, but because I was trying to get a grasp on why you are being so judgmental about it.
Let’s begin with a bit of clarification. As we age, eyelids do droop and can significantly impair vision. When this occurs, many insurance plans, including Medicare, may cover the cost of the surgery. As I understand it, correcting the puffiness under the eyes is typically considered a cosmetic procedure that is often done at the same time but may not be covered by insurance.
It sounds like your mother is taking all of the necessary steps to spare inconveniencing you and that she has the money for these procedures. You also note she didn’t tell you sooner because she knew you “wouldn’t approve” and you don’t.
Which leaves me thinking you have written me to simply have someone agree with your assessment of your mother’s decision … which I don’t.
It’s her vision, her face and her life. If she wants to look in the mirror and feel better about herself, then why not? Apparently, she can afford it and has already arranged for her care.
Obviously, I have no idea what your history is with your mother but from your attitude, I can only imagine you two have had some difficult times understanding each other. To be fair, if her “vanity” has caused you a lifetime of problems, your reaction is more understandable. Perhaps this is what you two might consider addressing instead of what her face looks like.
In my book, 77 isn’t nearly as old as you seem to think it is. Your mother has her health, financial resources and a spirit that feels fully alive and engaged in life. If this surgery helps her see and feel better about herself, then it seems like the right decision for her.
That said, I offer you one final note. I find it terribly sad that we, as a culture, continue to worship youth. It’s epidemic and, in my book, it’s heartbreaking. According to Transparency Market Research, the “anti-aging market is estimated to be worth USD 191.7 billion globally by 2019.” Additionally, both men and women are having countless “procedures” done to alter their appearance. Every one of these dollars spent on anti-aging is a feeble attempt to alter the inevitable course of nature. What concerns me even more? Each year these products and procedures are being used by even younger women and men.
If only we could measure worth by what is on the inside rather than the outside.
Tracey Barnes Priestley is a life coach with a master’s degree in community counseling psychology and more than 30 years of experience as a counselor, educator and consultant. She is married and the mother of three adult children, and the author of “Duck Pond Epiphany.” Visit her website, www.thesecondhalfonline.com; email her at: email@example.com; or send your letters to 665 F St., Arcata, CA, 95521. Tracey regrets she cannot answer all letters and emails.