There is a perception that getting older means we are somehow less than we were when we were younger. The memories and stories of our elders get discounted as ramblings, the lessons they could teach lost to many younger listeners.
While we eventually reach the point where we need help, a long life is an accomplishment, something to be proud of. Perhaps that’s why people go to great lengths to deny their true age. For example, Suna’s father cared for an elder woman who claimed to be 104. When she died, it came out that she was really 108, but but she felt it was important to she maintain the fiction of being younger than she was.
And my dentist is the same age I am, almost to the day. But I sometimes have trouble taking him seriously. His hair is the color of shoe polish, and he has obviously had “work done” on his face—probably a combination of face lifts and Botox®. According to MedicalNewsToday, “Botox is a neurotoxin … used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by paralyzing the underlying muscles.” Why anyone would poison themselves in a failed attempt to look younger is a mystery to me. And it undermines his credibility as a health advisor. But he is an excellent oral surgeon, and I keep reminding myself of that fact.
When we get older, we get older. I’m eternally grateful to my parents for instilling this sense of realism in me. I am the youngest of six. My mom was 36 when I was born. So, by the time I was in high school, they were looking seriously at retirement. Our kitchen table was lined with forged trivets conveying such messages as, “Don’t regret growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.”
Admittedly, I thought this aging advice was embarrassing at seventeen. But I still remember it in my sixties. Maybe that’s why I feel accepting of my own aging. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Even without denying our aging, we can still take steps to prolong our health and independence. My dad worked hard his whole life. He always advised me, “Don’t let that rockin’ chair get you.” The Spring before he died at 92, he planted 40+ acres of corn. His last hospitalization came at harvest, and he was more concerned about the harvest and yield than his own treatment. He knew he was dying and accepted it. So, he focused on what mattered to him.
This morning, I learned of an inspirational woman on the news. At 82, Willie Murphy beat a home invader badly enough to put him in the hospital. When the cops showed up, they took selfies with her. She said, “He picked the wrong house to break into.”
Amen, sister! “I think he was happy when he went in the ambulance.”
Not all of us are body builders, but we can all do something. My neighbor across the road walked three miles a day—every day—well into her eighties. When she succumbed to cancer, she went down fighting, but she went down with grace.
All of us face challenges every day. These basically fall into two categories: those that are within our sphere of control and those that are not. All I can hope is that I continue to work on thing things I can change and accept those I can’t. I hope I’m never too proud to accept help when I need it.
If you find you need help with some of the things you used to be able to do, Hearts, Homes, and Hands is here to provide that help.