Before Tom and I married we’d walk everywhere we had to go because we didn’t have a car back then. We’d walk the blocks of rowhomes where we’d see old couples sitting on their porches. What pressed upon our hearts was how miserable they seemed in each other’s company. We were young and very much in love with our whole life ahead of us. But, seeing this left such an impression on us that I remember saying, “Tommy if we’re lucky enough to grow old together. Let’s promise that we’ll never stop talking, caring and loving each other same as we do right now.”
I’ve been reading the letters we wrote to each other when Tom went off to college. In this one he wrote, “You know Connie, we’re going to have a beautiful life together. People, will one day look at us when we’ve grown old and say what a perfect marriage they have.” As if I didn’t already love him enough reading those letters made me fall in love with him all over again.
It’s easy to make promises when you have no idea what life will bring your way. Love is like finding a diamond in the rough but holding onto it isn’t enough. To find the real beauty that lies within it, you have to chisel away at all the stuff that hides it’s potential. There’s always been a sparkle that’s shined through our love. However, it takes a lifetime of trial and error chipping away and buffing before the true beauty of its light begins to reflect what we hold so dear.
We no longer let the way people choose to live their life make an impression on us. What we do see is the reality of what is ahead for us. We watched it as we lost our parents and now as we begin to lose more of our lifelong friends. There is no time to waste being miserable over the fact that we’re aging. There’s still so much living and loving to do whether it’s with our spouse, children or friends. It makes us hold onto each other a little tighter and appreciate the time we still have together. As long as we’re alive there’s still time to chip away at the diamond in the rough we hold in the palm of our hands. Maybe that’s been the mission in our life all along. To find the sparkle within ourselves and let it shine through us.
One of my kids asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day? I said, I didn’t even know it was coming up. I never thought much about my own Mother’s Day celebration. I was always focused on what I could do for my own mother and mother-in-law. It is after all a day set aside to celebrate the mother who raised you. It’s not supposed to be about celebrating yourself as a mother. They’ve both been gone a long time now. But we still think about them on this day remembering who they were and the things they did for us. Most of all how we wish we could still put our arms around them and wish them a happy Mother’s Day. There’s no one else to celebrate and thinking of myself feels selfish. But then I started thinking about it. Why shouldn’t I? I mean, if anyone were to ask me what the greatest accomplishment of my life has been I’d say without hesitation…raising my kids and being their mother. Maybe it’s part of embracing the many years of our life and the things we’ve accomplished. Maybe this is what my Dad meant when I turned 50 and he said, “this is your time now.”
So, as I’m contemplating the question of what I’m going to do for Mother’s Day. I’m also looking out the window at my gardens feeling overwhelmed by all the work I have to do yet. Then it came to me. There isn’t anything I want or need, but I sure could use some help this year getting my gardens weeded, mulched and planted while I’m still nursing my tennis elbow. Why not ask for the best gift of all…the helping hands of my own kids. It won’t even cost them anything, except their time. Doing what Mom’s do I even made sure to plan it on Saturday so my girls could enjoy their own Mother’s Day with their kids on Sunday.
Us Moms are known for being good party planners. But being the caregivers we’ve been has taught us best how to find ways to problem solve too. Leave it to a Mom to find a way to make everyone happy, but maybe part of learning to embrace our age means it’s time to include ourselves in the equation.
Happy Mother’s Day”
It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.
I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.
When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”
Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!
I was working on my memoir and started a sentence off with the word senior. It was about reaching that final year in high school. I sat there looking at the word senior, thinking how surreal the moment felt. I mean, here I was a senior again going through some of the same feelings and emotions only this time it’s at the opposite end of life. But what could make two such different correlations of the word anything alike? It could only be that dreaded feeling that comes with the anticipation of the unknown. It creates a kind of dis-ease they call…senioritis.
So, I wondered, what are the symptoms of senioritis? Of course, it only applied to seniors in high school. But once again I couldn’t help seeing the correlation to those of us adjusting to our retirement and our senior years of life.
Loss of interest in your appearance
Lack of motivation
Difficulty reading things longer than a few paragraphs
A drastic increase in TV watching
Short-term memory loss
Sleep too much or too little
Oh, those years of youth when I had my whole life ahead of me to look forward to. Another symptom of senioritis comes with the wonder of what’s left to come. Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s in her book, “Love Your Age,” reminds us that, “We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.” Understanding those words gives us our power back. It takes us out of that senioritis mindset. We realize life is no longer about looking ahead or back, but about making the most of the moments we have right now. I’m learning that you can live a lifetime in those moments because it actually feels as if time stops and all that matters is where you find yourself.
So, there we have it. Another way to embrace this stage of our life, take control and do it our way.
If you’re looking for more ways to find out how to make the best of this time in your life check out Gruffermans’s book. She has lots of great ideas and insight.
Turning 65 made me step back and take an undeniable reality check. I’ve reached the age of no return.
I tell my friend, “I want to embrace this time in my life, but I don’t know what that means.”
“Neither do I,” she says.
While I was on vacation recently I had an aha moment that put everything into perspective for me. I stopped to check out this big old tree that was over 237 years old. Standing beside it I looked so small in comparison. I was drawn to step within the fold of its draping branches. At first the clusters of Spanish-moss looked like ghost from the past swaying between the branches. Then it looked like beautiful long silver hair blowing in the wind. I’m in awe of the moment as if I’ve stepped within that place where the meaning of inner beauty lies. This big beautiful old tree with it’s wrinkles, cracks, and age spots still stands strong in a weathered region against all odds. Maybe it’s because she went with the flow of the winds, bending with a flexible heart to whatever God brought her way.
Nature teaching me how to embrace my age meant; to stand tall and proud for what and who I’ve become. That’s where our true beauty lies, and keep on moving so I can bend with the flow of life, with the gracefulness of Spanish-moss blowing in the wind.