I’ve always been “vertically challenged,” as my friend Darlene puts it. In practical terms it means I need to keep a folding stool handy just about everywhere in the house. It means I need to stand on a small wooden riser when I play handbells. It means I really need a six-way adjustable drivers seat in the car so I can reach the gas pedal and still see over the hood. It means any pants I buy ready-made are too long, even those marked “Petite.” It also meant I could wear the highest heeled shoes I wanted without being taller than my boyfriends, (although that was always a moot point since my one and only “boyfriend" was a good seven inches taller than me.) It didn’t take long for my son to surpass me in height. At age 12, he was a full head taller than I was, a sobering realization for me in more ways than simply physical.
I’ve never minded being short, never seriously wished I were tall and willowy like fashion models. Occasionally I’ve longed for an extra inch or so, mostly when I’m in crowds - it’s surprisingly claustrophobic being in a dense crowd when there’s nothing in sight except a sea of backs and shoulders. Overall, I’ve been content with my stature.
But in the past few years, I’ve had an inkling that I was shrinking. It’s not surprising - most of us do lose height as we age. I noticed it first when we lived in our old house and I started having trouble reaching the mixing bowls on the top shelf of my cupboard. Those bowls had lived there since 1976, and I’d never had a problem reaching them before. Until one day, I couldn’t.