I resisted the concept of aging for quite a few years. Me? Getting old? No. Never.
I semi-accepted gray hair because I could have any color I wanted with a $$$ investment. Changing skin tone and what they call elasticity? Again, outside help. I wrote and told stories about losing my upper lip with humor and without making any connection at all to the collagen loss. ( Seedlings: Stories of Relationships– “Losing Things”).
Somewhere after age 70 I came closer to embracing the idea that, yes, I was aging. With it came the realization that aging does not necessarily mean frailty. Things are just different. What are they, you ask?
Here are a few:
- Increased self-confidence.
- A pile-up of experiences that have given me knowledge, discernment, and lessons learned.
- The freedom from needing to fit in.
- An ever-widening circle of friends from all generations.
- The joy and love of a 33-year marriage.
- The knowledge that death, grief and loss of loved ones will seep or slam into me again- and again. And I will be ok.
- The memory aid of 30,000 photos on my laptop.
As my 76th birthday approached, I felt a mix of irritation and excitement. I’ve been thinking a lot about aging. I am now an elder. Events I was a witness to or was a part of – Viet Nam, Woodstock, assassinations of Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, I have a Dream, the Bicentennial, ERA, 9/11 – are considered history. My age marker is: I will be old when I am 80. I plan to live into triple digits so I’ve got some years to go.
With this self-acceptance comes an increased sense of humor about how things are different. I relish afternoon naps. I appreciate spending time at home elevating my feet and legs. I’ve actually drawn map lines connecting the spots that arrive changing my skin tone. Cataract surgery was a boon- colors were brighter. I didn’t need any glasses at all for almost three years post-surgery. Now “cheaters” are back in almost every room of the house for reading small print.
Not All Aging is the Same- or is It?
Occasionally, Hank and I disagree about what might be optimal because of our different needs in this aging process.
Here’s the latest. My sweetheart was replacing a light bulb our clothes closet. We both had been thinking it was getting dim in there but neither of us said anything (Maybe one of the bulbs was out? Or could it be aging eyesight?) H. replaced it and asked me to give an opinion of the lights. Opinion solicitations are fraught with limitless interesting discussions. Very often we are coming from different ends of the opinion spectrum so to have this opinion solicited was… interesting.
He paused before we entered the closet, blocking the doorway. “Tell me if you think it’s too bright.”
It was brilliantly bright. I had to squint a bit to get used to it. The new lightbulb lit up every nook and cranny in the closet room. Slacks, tops, dresses, purses, shoes gleamed in the glow. Labels on the top shelf storage containers were easy to read. We looked at each other and smiled. We spoke in unison. “Perfect.”
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.