While having lunch with my friend, Suzette, she sagely announced, ‘Aging is tricky’. At least I think that is what she said, restaurants are so noisy neither of us can hear what the other is saying. Thank goodness we have honed our lip reading skills.
Navigating the path through the golden years is complicated. I understand the wrinkles, age spots and senior moments. I long ago gave up checking the mirror to look for the woman I used to be. I have to admit I never expected to look like this. I must have been absent the day gravity was explained in class. How can a trim 5’4” confident woman turn into a lumpy 5’1” old person. It is some kind of evil. In my innocence, I never gave aging much thought until all of a sudden I was old.
Getting older brings with it some comfort, there isn’t the pressure of the working world. Good riddance to the 5:30 alarm, rush hour traffic, deadlines, and office politics. Life is good when the day is yours to enjoy any way you want. Free to consider a new hobby, volunteer for a cause dear to your heart or simply sit down with a good book.
On the down side, we have time to worry abut things that we might have previously ignored. One look at the headlines shows there is cause for concern. The world seems to be spinning out of control, everything is changing, and change is unsettling.
Left to our own thoughts and concerns we spend more time than necessary on the news of the day or more personal concerns. Will the money we have put away last to that final breath? An important question with no clear answer. Should we take that bucket list trip or save money in case there is a need later? We arrive in this world with a belly button to signal our start, if there was ‘use by date’ stamped on our rump it would make planning so much easier.
Will we become a burden to our kids? A burden can be financial, which would be very unfortunate, or more frightening is a physical burden. Will the kids have to take care of us? Will we be able to make decisions in our best interest to keep that from happening? Will we take care of our health so we won’t be that physical burden? Can we use sound judgement to know when we need to make changes in our lives to support not only our quality of life, but to maintain our independence? Aging is tricky.
In the last few years when I’m dusting the furniture I think, this old table, buffet or armoire won’t make the cut to new living arrangements. We love our house, but there comes a time when the yard work, housekeeping and general maintenance is too much. The question becomes not if we will move, but when.
The expression, timing is everything, comes to mind. Should we wait until the kids gather around and tell us it is time to leave this house and they offer to sort through our treasures because the job is too big for us? Or should we do the research ourselves and arrange the next phase of our lives on our own terms. In the first case I see the Goodwill boxes being filled and hauled away. In the second I see a capable couple choosing simpler living arrangements. One that provides yard care, maybe some housekeeping, a dining option seems like a good idea, and activities to keep us engaged. When is the right time? Too early may lead to regret, too late might take the decision out of our hands. Aging is tricky.
We have one advantage, this home has always been our home, the kids weren’t raised here. Moving on will not be closing a door in their lives but I can hear the door slam for us.
It’s troublesome but we seem to be aging faster than our car. We have had several cars, a couple new off the showroom floor, others bought after the first owner took the depreciation hit. Our 2008 car doesn’t have a ‘use by date’ either. If we expect to drive another ten years, will we be driving a twenty year old car? Should we upgrade or figure when this car is done we’ll call Uber. Newer vehicles have safety features that are nice for older drivers, on the other hand figuring out the bells and whistles on a different car can be tricky. I know where the seat warmer button is on this old car, but I admit the navigation system is still a mystery. Learning a whole new set of gadgets is daunting.
Oscar Wild said, “With age comes wisdom . . . . “. As youngsters we gave credit to older folks and their wisdom, if for no other reason than they had already lived through what we were experiencing. Times have changed, the experiences have changed. Our grand children’s world is nothing like the world we grew up in.
When we were growing up things like the Internet, social media and on-line shopping would have been something out of the Jetsons. If we had a TV, Walter Cronkite provided the news once a day, not all day everyday. Face it, it is hard to keep up with progress let alone feel competent about the evolving technology. Where young people previously looked to the older generation for guidance they now see us as hopelessly out of date and uninformed. I have become irrelevant just when I thought someone might be interested in what I had to say.
When we were younger life was full, raising kids, welcoming grand children, enjoying these young families. But ultimately the young families are busy with their own lives and we become simply anobserver in their choices and decisions. Our role becomes that of a cheer leader and often that is from a distance.
Aging has become a series of giving things up. We gave up hiking in favor of neighborhood walks, I’ve given that up for the safety of the treadmill where the path is always level and traffic isn’t a concern. Over the years we have enjoyed having friends over for dinner. Now we are more inclined to meet them at a restaurant for lunch. Not nearly as much fun as finding that special recipe to share, but so much less work.
We’ve given up live performances because we miss a lot of what is being said. Unfortunately movies theaters don’t provide the pause/replay button we use so often with television. I’m disappointed when everyone is laughing and I haven’t the faintest idea what was said. We look at each other and ask did you get that? Since there is no ‘pause’button we miss what is next. We’ve finally figured out we just have to wait until we get to the car and hope we remember where the missing part was in the movie. I hate to think we will eventually give up the big screen in favor of only watching movies at home. Aging is tricky.