On aging, gratefully
“Nifty, nifty, you’re turning 50!” is a message often seen on birthday cards for those reaching that venerable half century mark. Frankly, I’d love to receive such a card. Alas, I already did – (much) longer than two decades ago. The 50th birthday celebration I just attended was for our son David. He invited family and friends to join him on a beach overlooking Charleston while he reigned over bocce ball tournaments and served up a luscious Lowcountry boil to the background of a luscious Lowcountry sunset.
We gave him a card with a standard birthday message, plus another grumpy one composed and handwritten by yours truly. It said in part:
“You had to go turn 50
Now isn’t that just fine!
You know that now of course
We can’t still claim to be 39! . . .”
The worst part about this whole thing is that David isn’t even our oldest descendant! I never thought much about my advancing years until our kids starting advancing themselves. It wasn’t long ago that I noticed a few strands of grey in this son’s – as well as his younger brother’s – hair. It startled me. Our daughters, like their mother, long ago figured out what was causing that grey hair and have taken care of it.
Then of course there are grandchildren. They arrive cute and cuddly, tottering around you and before you know it towering over you, graduating from high school and then going off to college. This transition alone is guaranteed to bring on the grey as well as increase wrinkles. (If somebody could devise a way to rinse out the latter that would be worth another celebration!)
There’s a further saying about growing older – something about mind over matter – and that “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” And you know, that’s true. The trick, of course, is not to mind. “Growing old is not for sissies” is another of those truisms – and anyone who is in that phase of life knows that niggling arthritis and other aches and pains come with the territory. I guess the bottom line old saying about getting older is that “It’s better than the alternative.” That’s all too true as well.
So what to do? Well, like David, celebrate with good family, good friends, good food and a good setting. And not just on birthdays – but every day as well. My prime example of “Mind over Matter” was my mother, who lived to be 92. At age 80 she drove solo from Summerville to California – the southern route – to visit her sister and then returned via the northern route to spend time with relatives in the mid west. Her trip was in 1989 and lasted from just before Hurricane Hugo to just before Thanksgiving. “Frankly my dear,” I’m not that far away from being an octogenarian myself – but I’m miles away from being able to duplicate her feat.
For me, that everyday celebration of life is best expressed in my favorite “any age” saying via Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,” and succinctly paraphrased in a favorite sign in our home: “Enjoy Today.”
That I think is the real secret folks – grey hairs or no!