Old Lives Matter

First of all, let me express the simple fact that the golden years are shiny and free yet also tarnished. Didn’t know gold would tarnish? Guess that’s where the old expression fails us all. I’ve learned over and over again it is a question of this flesh and blood we move around in, also known as our bodies. Being one of the older folk does provide a certain freedom thus the shiny and honest remark.

I have found more looseness of expression as I grow old and see a glowing light around many aspects of life I never noticed previously. That is a polite way of saying I have a big mouth and the light of awareness shines in my life more than it ever did before. When one is driving in the country, the slower you go, the more you are able to see. Funny how that works.

I remember my mother used to say she felt the same inside and didn’t think about aging until she looked in a mirror. I understand now. That mirror is no friend of mine, but I haven’t cracked it yet. If I ever do, I guess I’ll have to learn how to cackle. My mother was always a very proud woman and always dressed as nicely as she could afford for church every Sunday, always had her hair “fixed” even as it became more and more blue. I don’t have blue hair thanks to Clairol but I do try to look my best. Thank God my pride is still intact. I believe that keeps many of us going when we are tempted to give up. I do have to add I am getting awfully tired of all the comebacks I’ve had to make in the last two years but life still consists of placing one foot in front of the other.

A few weeks ago when I was seeing my physician here in town she had to look at my feet. When I took off my socks, she got a huge smile on her face. I’m not certain but I think it’s because I still paint my toenails. I know that’s not a large ticket item, especially when I always do it myself, but it keeps me feeling feminine. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’m grubby, although I am a bit used and worn. As far as reaching antique status; not sure if I qualify or not. I think that decorating word “distressed” would fit me pretty well. I don’t stand as tall as I once did. I’m three inches shorter thanks to osteoporosis and bend a bit forward for the same reason. I personally believe that any elderly person with a smile on their face is forever beautiful.

As all of you know, who have been reading this blog over the years, I have many health issues and each of them is a pain in the arse. I won’t pretend any fondness for any of my four diseases because like naughty children, they each cause a great deal of trouble. It’s really all I can do to keep up with them without throwing in any wildcards like the recent pneumonia I am recuperating from at this time. I do insist in not constantly talking about all or any one of my problems. Is there anyone more boring or tiresome than one who drones on like a machine about their health problems? It quickly becomes that pesky gnat that circles around one’s head; irritating, quarrelsome and annoying. I talk about my illnesses on here because that’s the purpose I originally intended for this blog. This is the place to share for me and for you. It’s my hope that strength and hope comes from all the sharing we do. I know there is much understanding on here.

As we age, good health or bad, we learn many things along the way. We learn which foods we can tolerate. We learn that Metamucil is a food group and we become more winded when walking upstairs; well, I mean the breathing kind of winded but what the heck, the other kind of wind, too. I’ve also learned, after receiving many IV’s for osteoporosis that your fingernails and toenails become very hardened and if you’re not careful, you can begin to look much like Howard Hughes. Remember him? No, he was before my time and I did not know him except through books, films and the news. If we’re fairly smart, as we age, we also learn that liver spots have nothing to do with the liver, being overweight doesn’t mean you’re stupid, being thin or lean doesn’t mean you’re anorexic and all fuzzy thinking is not dementia. I should also add that the famous old wives tale of yore can sometimes be true.

I take surcease in knowing I am and always will be younger than Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews, two of my favorite performers. I believe each of those ladies can teach us a great deal about loving, smiling and having a good time as well as caring for others. One of my favorite, dog-eared paperbacks is the autobiography of the actress Rosalind Russell. I’ve always loved her attitude about aging. In her book she speaks about many of the Hollywood actresses who were always having cosmetic surgery. In one instance she spoke of one actress, once a famous beauty who always had bands placed under her hairline to draw back her skin and get rid of wrinkles. Rosalind said she tried it once and she couldn’t turn her head or breathe and told them to “get this crap off of me.” She never tried it again. She was always a lovely woman and remained so until her death due to breast cancer many years ago. She doesn’t talk about it in her book because she said one disease was enough for any one book. She suffered for years with rheumatoid arthritis and although a generation or two behind me has always been a favorite of mine due to her wonderful sense of humor. You might remember her best for her role in AUNTIE MAME or as Mama Rose in GYPSY.

Old age is not something to fear. I asked my sweet yet salty man how he felt about getting old as he is preparing to retire and his reply was so him. “What choice do I have?” Yep, that’s him and his practical approach. All that was missing was some remark about the alternative not being too appealing.

I do think the pain many of us live with gives us wisdom and yes, sorrow. I have always attempted to find some light in the midst of the darkest days and some joy amidst the tears. Laughter after sorrow has always been a good strategy to seek, a goal worth envisioning. Reflection in old age and knowing that old lives matter is important for each of us, young or old because if you’re not old now, you will be. I’ve learned to prune the unnecessary out of my life and that can often mean an acquaintance or two. I’ve sought to make these years matter in small ways if not large ones. Please my dear friends don’t throw rock salt in the well of life by being bitter or angry. It will only make life sour and give you a thirst you will never quench. Remember it is the small acts of courtesy and kindness that leave the impression; it is the things of the spirit which give true joy and remember to always look for the light. No, not the famous light at the end of the tunnel but the one on the face of your spouse, your grandchildren’s eyes or the loyalty of a grown child. Life is good. If you doubt that as you age, just watch an old dog as they wag their tale in an act of pure joy. I can’t wag my tale any longer but the thought still puts a smile on my face.