Greetings one and all….
I am enjoying a fabulous, fall-like morning in Denver—a little nip in the air that serves as a reminder that summer is almost over. YIKES! If there were any lazy days of summer, I missed them. The season was an absolute blur. So, let’s take a break and chat about life—a wee rest is good for the body and the soul. Today, I want to reflect on the journey of aging—how we feel about the process. As you know, we live in an age-denying society. Our culture honors and reveres youth as evidenced by the multi-billion dollar anti-aging business that offers a myriad of products and services to keep aging at bay (as if that were possible). Personally, I think our societal revulsion of aging blinds us to the opportunities and possibilities only afforded by getting older. Please know, I am not diminishing the challenges of aging, of which there are many. However, what is to be learned with each passing moment? How will we choose to be shaped and transformed by our experience of aging? Questions worthy of consideration.
As a 59-year-old woman, I don’t profess to have the answers to these or any other questions related to aging. Like you, I am currently seeking and discovering new things about life and myself every moment of every day. So, I choose to learn from the elders I know and am blessed to love—people who are much wiser than I. My mentors of aging include an extraordinary woman whom I met fourteen years ago. Today, she is 81 years old…and proud of it. Her journey has not been an easy one from a medical perspective. She confronts more physical challenges on a daily basis than I have in an entire lifetime. And yet, she exudes optimism, hope, joy, and love at every twist and turn that life throws at her. Her response to life is more than inspirational. It is aspirational.
Over the past year, my dear friend experienced a myriad of serious medical complications. Although she remains optimistic, my dear friend is also a realist. As we were sitting in an exam room several weeks ago awaiting a consult with a surgeon, we chatted about the various challenges over the past year. She said, “Ya know, I realize I have been a little old lady for quite some time. But up until the past year, I never felt like one! Today, I feel like a little old lady.” As always, she stated the stark reality followed by a little chuckle. Although she doesn’t like the reality, she is not one to get bogged down in denial and despair. Life is what it is. Now what?
I am saddened to witness my friend’s physical decline. However, I am blessed to experience an enhanced emotional and spiritual connection with her. We talk about meaning-full things—friends, family, and faith. We remember. We imagine. We laugh. We cry. And most importantly, we tell each other how we feel. My friend has never been one to verbalize her affection for others. She always expressed her love through actions. So, to hear her say “I love you” is remarkable and incredibly touching. It is also another lesson learned from my aging mentor. The lesson being that there are no guarantees in life. This moment is truly all we have. Consequently, there is no reason to wait until I “feel like a little old lady” to convey my love and appreciation to family and friends. There is no time like the present to share my heart and soul with those I love. Thanks dear friend for showing me the way once again.
I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane
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