I never paid much attention to milestone birthdays, as we were too busy raising a family, working and looking optimistically toward the future. I always thought there was a tomorrow.

Now I am approaching 80. More of my body parts have begun to betray me. My very young podiatrist viewed my sore and aching foot and said, “What an odd old foot you have.” I’ve seen too many friends suddenly appear frail after they’ve hit their 80s. Some have died.

My tall walking stick once guided me down steep hills, but now I lean on it while holding my husband’s arm as I waddle forward. I’m ever conscious of trying to avoid falls, knowing full well that a hip fracture might mean death within the year.

I look forward to family coming for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for summer visits, but have to plan more carefully as I can no longer sustain long, energetic days.

I awaken in the morning and it takes my body at least five minutes to sort itself out. I intend to clean house, but after vacuuming and washing the kitchen and bathroom floors, my back aches so much that I need to sit down and rest.

When I think of something I want to remember, I dash (good exercise) to the nearest pen and paper, only to lose at least 15 percent of my thought. I think I’m moving rapidly and efficiently, but when day is done, my “to do list” still has many items mocking me that need to be put off till tomorrow. When I sneeze it’s not pretty (sometimes even when I haven’t sneezed).

When I was 70 people would say, “Really? You look like you’re in your early 60s.” Now when I tell them I’m rapidly approaching my 80th birthday, they say, “Oh,” and quickly look away.

Many of my friends have chosen to allow their hair to gray or whiten naturally. Not me. I cling to my neutral medium ash and maintain a supply of root touchups.

In other words, I am confronted daily by my limitations and have to make concessions for age that have come with being “almost” 80.

I think about the prospect of the unimaginable: If my husband or I should die, we cannot fathom the loneliness and depth of loss that we would have to endure.

So, now, suddenly at “almost” 80, I no longer feel as I did at 21, optimistically confronting a future of unknown possibilities. I know I am suddenly old, but the amazing, wonderful thing is that I still absolutely enjoy each day, walking the beach, clasping my husband’s hand, being with my family, volunteering, reading, listening to music – and I gaze a little toward tomorrow eager to embrace it while I still can.