Getting older is surreal, at best. I am experiencing a conflict between my aging body and my younger attitude. It’s helpful to ask, “What was Mother doing when she was my age.” The answer anchors my thoughts, calms my fears, and guides my choices. Although it isn’t everything, I realize genetics runs strong.
I lost both my parents in 2007, and memories of their lifecycle resemble watching a movie or looking out the window of a train—I see similarities and differences in our generations. We all start self-centered, move into parent and or career center, and gravitate to introspection, where we try to figure out how it all fits together.
If we make smart life choices and add a little luck, we will live to grow old. We will learn our most important lessons, make memories to treasure, forgive regrets, and love deep. I try to remember that I need to accept the downside of aging if I want to reap the powerful benefits.
Life can be precious, tumultuous, stressful, rewarding, educational, etc., etc., but mainly, all of the above. By the time we get to our “golden” years, we are better acquainted with ourselves, a gift earned.
I find it necessary to shift from credible and driven to less determined—from self-confident to self-questioning—from being the care-giving parent or adult child to needing more directives and support. I find it challenging to make the shift.
Instead of my parents looking to me for approval, answers, and reinforcement, I am the one looking for an advocate. My parents grew to need and depend on my sisters and me, and now it’s my turn to square-up and admit the roles have reversed—crazy as it feels, I’m the one in need of support and advice.
There is grief associated with aging. I have gravitated to the current classification of “most vulnerable.” I have lost not just people I care about, but also short-term memory, leg muscles, energy, earning power, nighttime sleeping, physical health, and my ability to filter opinions. Thank goodness I have an enhanced sense of humor, and have learned to laugh at the stupid things I do and say, and dismiss what others think of me.
Instead of my parents, I enter the stage of lower dignity and esteem and feel more dependent and frustrated. My aging goal is to live my last years with the self-kindness to believe I have done the best I could with the skills I have, and compassion to forgive myself and others.
Is life too short or too long? I don’t know, but I do know I will give it all I’ve got left.
How about you?
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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