Tag Archives: Aging

Aging

Aging!  Who would ever have thought?  I never in my life thought about aging, but lately, it’s really hitting me.  When I was born in at the end of 1948, neither of my grandmothers were even 50 years old.  They were born in January and March of 1900.  It was always easy to know my grandmothers’ ages because whatever the last two numbers of the year it was, that was their age was their age.  One passed away at 90 years old, the other at 91. They were my “old” grandmothers.  I kind of have to laugh at that now.  Both of them were almost 49 years old when I was born.  I thought these two women were ancient!  I look at photos of them, and I still think they were ancient for their ages.

My grandmothers at my wedding. They were both 70.

Age is relative, I know.  My grandmothers were both immigrants to the United States.  My dad’s mom was almost 30 years old when she arrived, and my mom’s mother was only ten.  Maybe that is why they seemed so old to me—they had hard lives as immigrants.

Next month I will be 72 years old.  It kind of has me blown away.  I never felt bothered about hitting the milestone birthdays—when I get more into the decade of those milestones do those numbers get to me.

Seventy-two?  When I was a child I dreamt of being a grown-up.  I never dreamed of being a senior citizen. I dreamt of being a mother–never even thought about being a grandmother.  I find it hard to believe I have been retired for so long.  I loved my work in Human Resources.  I think I could do it today—then reality hits me—I don’t know what laws have changed since I left in 2013.  I was really good with compliance issues because I was always up to date on the federal and state laws that my profession had to follow.  I was an expert at benefits (health insurance and pension plans).  Most companies have eliminated pension plans, and the health insurance world was turned upside down in the last decade.  I have no idea what the new rules are.

That’s when it hits me that I must be old.  I am out of touch with the working world.  I couldn’t fill out a resume and get a job interview if I wanted one.  The working world has passed me by.  On the other hand, I have happily passed it up for new and great adventures that I could never have working full time.

My body tells me that I am aging.  That is what really gets to me.  If I sit too long, when I stand up, it takes a second for all the muscles and bones to get the message from my brain it is time to walk, and to do so without a bit of stiffness.  Then after a couple steps, I am good, but those first couple steps always take me by surprise.

I cannot complain.  I am almost 72 years old, and really have no health problems that require a multitude of prescription bottles.  In fact, the only prescriptions I have are for my dry eyes, and for occasional acid reflux.  That’s it.  Knock on wood!  

Time marches on and it waits for no one.  I am aging.  I told Dennis the other day that if something happened to me, the newspaper headline would say “an elderly woman was . . . .”  I  have read that in the newspaper about people who was in their 60’s, but I’m in my 70’s, so I know what the headline is going to say.

Dennis & I. The elderly.

It is stunning to me to think that I am in the autumn of my life—maybe even the winter.  I have had a good life.  There have been some pot holes along the way (some really bad ones that almost took me out), but on the whole I have had a wonderful life.  I have great relatives.  I love the fact that over the years I have gotten to know so many of my cousins on a deeper level.  I feel blessed to have come from such a large family that has connected so well together—even with ones I didn’t know in my youth. I have become friends with many with whom I attended high school–the most of these friendships in the last 20 years because of reunions. My life is full and rich.

I have four adult sons, with wives and families.  They are all doing their thing, and I just watch from afar.  It just seems so odd that I am the matriarch of the family!  Ha!  I like that—it sounds so official.  It sounds like I should be ruling over something or someone—well, not in this family!  Nor do I want to do that.  I am grateful that they are functioning adults, with their own special sets of problems that they as adults have to resolve.  Oh, and my grandkids.  I love those kids—but most of them are not even kids anymore.  They are young adults.  Where has the time gone?

I guess it will be until my dying day that I will find it odd to be one of the “elderly.”  That is not where my brain is.  Hopefully, even if my body one day wants to start giving out, I hope my brain will still be the young person that I feel.  I hope that my mind will be sharp for a long time—where I can “get the joke” or even “make the joke.”  In the meantime, I will continue hiking four miles on a mountain, reading, writing, sewing, and connecting with people.

I have gained wisdom over these years.  Sometimes we look at young people, and shake our heads, thinking why don’t they get it?  Why don’t they know what they are doing?  Then I remember that I was no better, and probably worse.  I am sure my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents shook their heads when they watched me in my youth.

Me with 2 of my sons–future elderly!

We don’t learn from other’s mistakes.  We learn from our own.  Some of us are slower to learn than others, but on the whole we have learned.  We have gained wisdom.  We have gained patience.  

It still will feel odd to me as the birthdays come and go.  My sister and I are the only two left from our primary family, both parents and one sister gone.  One day we will be gone, and our kids will be the elderly ones.  Do you think it will come as much as a surprise to them as it has to me?  

Forever Changing

I realized the other day that not only we were into a new year, but also a new decade.  I have lived seven decades and one year.  This past decade has been one of great changes for me.  I went to my computer to look at photos since my Mac can allow me to look at each year of photos.  This quick review has gone on for three days, and I’m not done yet.  There are a lot of photos taken and scanned over the last 10 years.  I think of myself as a newlywed until I realize that the most of this decade I have been with Dennis.  How time flies.  Not just getting married (something I never expected), but the travels.  I have seen much of the United States this past decade, and even a few countries in Europe and the Caribbean.  There are a ton of photos of time with my grandkids—swimming, overnight parties, and trips.  There are photos of family and friends at our home.  Also during this decade I lost a dad, a sister, and one of my very best friends.  Reviewing these photos brought all kinds of feelings.  One of the things that really stuck out to me is the word change.  I remember years ago a work colleague made a comment to me that I always seemed to reinvent myself.  Reviewing these photos reminded me that not only did I change, but my surroundings changed also.

I thought it might be fun that instead of talking about change, that I would show you change in my life and surroundings by showing photos.  I would call it before and after photos, but some are probably before, later, and after still to come.  So her goes:

This is me before and after.  Not much change except a bit of aging.  I suppose that is a process that cannot be stopped. These are both unretouched photos.  Ugh!

These are three of my grandkids and how they have matured these past 10 years.  They were young children, and are now young adults.  I love that I can relate to them as young adults, but I miss these cute and funny little kids.

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My home in the St. Louis area changed.  It is amazing how changing a floor, countertop, and stairway spindles can give a different look to a home.  I had that home built in 1999, and moved out when I married Dennis in 2013.

The biggest transformation was the home in Mid Missouri.  Here is how the outside looked, and then the transformation to what it looks like today.

And the interior of that house was the same way.  Dennis allowed me to put my touch on it.  We repainted the interior together.  It was frightening to see Dennis on a tall ladder to cut in at the ceiling at 20’ above the ground.

Also, here is the transformed kitchen.  Once again, only the floors and countertops were the big change.

One of the things you may have noticed is that I cleared things out.  When I was a kid I was messy.  I must have been really messy, because as a teenager my dad told me I could never get married unless I cleaned my room.  When I got engaged and called my best friend to tell her, she asked me if I cleaned my room!  I recall telling her that my dad was probably glad to get me and my messy room out of the house.  The funny thing about that is that as I have matured, and clutter really bothers me.  It almost makes me feel claustrophobic.  I need clean lines and a reduction of “stuff” to not feel overwhelmed.  I have learned over the years that less is more—at least for me.

In the last ten years I have changed, not only in appearance, but also on the inside.  I have more confidence than  I ever had.  Maybe I no longer feel I have to prove myself to someone, to be loved, to be valued in the work I do, to love and value my family and friends.  I have grown in my faith, and can see how the challenges I had in the past have made me a more loving compassionate person, and also ever more grateful for God’s loving grace of holding my hand and bringing me through some very tough circumstances.  I have moved from having a career in human resources to being retired, occasionally dipping my toe back into the field, but doing so less and less these days.

time fliesAs for all of us, it has been a decade of ups and downs.  It flew by faster than I could ever imagine.  By the time we end this decade, which will probably move at warp speed, I will be 81, God willing.  I look forward for this decade to be one that I can remain relatively healthy.  I say that because I have learned that once one turns 70, the wheels start falling off.  I will do what I can to keep the wheels in place and the engine running!  I will see grandchildren find their careers and their life partners.  I hopefully, sometime later in this decade, get to meet some great grandchildren, and watch my sons become grandparents themselves.  I know that this decade I will lose some more family and friends.  That is always difficult.  This decade I want to lean into my faith in Christ even more.  After all, being in his presence gets closer every day.  I want to be prepared!

I wish for you a decade of love, joy, peace, and contentment.  I wish for you to let go of what is not important in the scheme of things, and embrace your future, whatever it be, full steam.  May you look to the future with optimism no matter the circumstances.  Happy New Year in 2020 and beyond.

Outdoor Light

No Photos, Please!

“I hate having my picture taken.  I hate when someone wants to take my photo.  I hate to see it posted on social media.  None of the photos make me look as young as I feel or as thin as I think I should be.”

Do those thoughts go through your head?  They sure go through mine more often than I like to admit.  What is it about our body image that we just struggle on a daily basis to accept?

35-70

Andrea around 35 & at 70 (both are natural hair color)!

For those of you who do not know me personally, I am 70 years old.  I don’t know how that happened because last night I was just 35, and today I woke up and I am 70!  Yikes!  Where did the time go?

We are bombarded by the media to look like we have no fat, no wrinkles, no blemishes, and no whatever else we shouldn’t look like according to some advertising agency out there who we think we should believe.

cameraAll of this really woke me up recently when I wanted to take some photos at a party I was hosting, and one of my guests freaked out.  She did not want her photo taken.  She did not want her photo posted anywhere on social media.  This person could have been my mom years ago.  My mother hated her photo taken.  She was overweight most of her adult life, and over the years her weight fluctuated from slightly overweight to really overweight.  The sad thing is that I have very few photos of my mom from my childhood.  She hated the way she

family

Two of the very few photos with my mom–she was hiding behind us.

looked,  so she either refused to get her photo taken, or she tore herself out of the photo.

That really struck me.  I have never been too thin, but I have been all over the place being overweight.  I see some photos of me and I cringe.  Now it is not only the weight.  I now see photos, and I see the lines and creases, and all the aging and sagging that has joined me over the years.  My chest just too big, so I hate photos of the giant shelf on the front of my body, not counting the spare tires that I blame for giving birth to four children, and several abdominal surgeries.  

I am working very hard to love my body just the way it is.  It’s far from perfect, but it is alive.  Not only it is alive, I have great blood pressure.  I don’t have any (knock on wood!) age related or weight related diseases.  The only prescription medications I take and have ever taken consistently are the eye drops for my dry eyes.  I am healthy.  I should be celebrating that, rather than worrying what someone thinks of how my body looks.

I have yo-yo dieted all my life.  I was pretty much sedentary for the first 60 years of my life, and the last few years, I found I love getting outside and hiking for miles.  I like how 1 Smilemy body feels when I do this—how much more energy I have, and how my systems seem to work better.  The weight doesn’t drop off, like it does for others doing this, but I feel good.

I don’t want my kids and grandkids to say they have no photos to remember me by.  I think they love me regardless of a few bulges here and there.  Now when my photo is taken, I silently pray that they won’t post it on social media, but if they do, I will have to accept it.  It is what I look like after all, even though I picture myself looking about 95% better than the photo—oh, I love my imagination!  

So, the next time someone points the camera your way, just smile.  Know you are making memories, and that seems to be more important than what is chatting away in our brains telling us we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough.

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