Growing old gracefully

adriana suriano
3 min readJan 26, 2024

My father refuses to grow old gracefully. When he turned 83, he had elective surgery on two occasions, to remove varicose veins in both legs. Normally it’s an elective surgery that insurance does not cover. My father found a dermatologist, a native southern Italian like himself, to tell the insurance otherwise.

“I had to tell the pasian to clean the waiting area. There’s dust everyone. The floor is dirty.”

If you are of Italian descent and willing to save my father money, you are a paisan to him. If you are anything else, well you are not.

“Dad, what did he say when you told him his office looked like shit?”

You could tell my father was not interested in answering a question I should know the answer to.

“What do you think he said? I went back for my follow up and the floor was clean. No dust. And he got new chairs.”

I love this about my dad. He will tell you something. Then expect you to do something to fix it. And maybe 80% of the time the situation is fixed in his favor.

“Adriana, can I tell you something?” My father said this to me recently like he has throughout my life. I fucking know when he asks me that question it’s going to be about my appearance.

“Your hair. It’s not good.”

He failed to realize that is a statement and not a question.

My once beautifully thick curly hair is thin and wiry. When I saw my non paisan dermatologist she told me I was moderately balding in a few areas and there wasn’t much I could do it about. I tried to explain this to him in the past, but he did not accept that. When my mother was alive she told him to shut up.

“You need vitamins. You need to eat more nuts. You gotta get bloodwork. Then you know what vitamins to take. And eat Brazil nuts. I read in consumer reports it’s a superfood.”

“Okay dad. I will make an appointment with a dermatologist and let you know.”

I knew I was not making an appointment. I am almost 53 years old, and I care much more about how I feel that how I look. I was skinny. I Did have amazingly long thick curly hair. I was cute 30 years ago, and I knew it. I was so reckless in so many ways. I was cute and didn’t give a fuck about myself. I was trying to stay as numb as possible for lots of reasons.

I like being older. I love being married to a smart as fuck, thoughtful, kind man. I adore staying home in our cool condo within walking distance to my gym. I get so excited now when I remind myself to take a deep breath. I am ecstatic when I recognize if I feel tense or anxious or angry that I do not want to be numb. I want to feel everything.

“Adriana, you okay?”

“Yeah. I was just thinking I am a little bit tired today.”

“Okay. Well we all get tired.”

My father didn’t care about being empathetic. I am not sure he knows the word exists.

“Adriana, can I tell you something?”



adriana suriano

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.