Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Perplexities of Aging. I just returned from a trip to Ohio. It is a beautiful country and some wonderful people live in the Newark area.  I attended the high school graduation for my granddaughter, Haley, and was also thrilled to watch my grandson, Gunnar, perform and get kudos as he left the 8th grade behind.  I am a very proud Nana, and give the credit for their wonderful, Christian attitudes to my daughter, Kristine, and hubbie, Kevin.

As happy as I am for the growth and achievements of both my girls, it was also a sad time for me. Well, not so much sad, as reflective.  I realized that my Newark family circled their wagons, and they each have the others' backs, no matter what happens.  I cannot help but be both proud that they are so independent, and melancholy that I'm standing outside, looking in.  That's the way God meant for it to be.  And, it is fulfillment of my prayer as the girls grew.  They are independent, loving, Christian women, with strong values and the ability to do whatever it takes to succeed in the most important areas of their lives.  With God's guidance of all three of us, they both made the trip to maturity without giving up or giving way to self-defeating attitudes.  Yea for them!

Circumstances this past few months led me to fully look at the reality I saw approaching, but put off actualizing What I did not realize as I said those years-ago prayers was the extent to which I would feel left behind as my children's worlds evolved into one without need of parental guidance. Their lives go on, whether mine does or not. I now find myself in the often-joked-about stage of becoming the child to my own children.  I knew it would happen, but I find I'm not quite ready to give up being the adult.

I realize I'm growing old, but resist the term "senior citizen." I have some difficulty hearing, but tell myself that many people, much younger than myself, are in much worse shape (hearing wise) than am I.  I know my rationalization is a form of denial, but, it is also true.

I lost weight for health and personal reasons, only to look in the mirror and see the absolute evidence of the "older" person I've become.  Newly-found wrinkles replaced the fat. I know it sounds silly, but I would rather look at the fat, because I looked younger then. Yes, another denial of reality.

That "senior moment" joke isn't so much a joke any more. I can try and convince myself that each one is a result of a specific health issue, but the truth lies somewhere between illusion and reality.  Even without a health issue, I am now at the age where younger people just chuckle and roll their eyes at the ever-increasing sign of my aging. You see, it doesn't really matter the cause, the end result is the same: old age is catching up with me, as it does everyone.

It probably does not matter to anyone except me whether I take notice of current fashion, dress in current styles, or resist the long-held stereotype of the gentle grandma, sitting in my rocking chair in ankle-length floral dress with an afghan across my knees. I wonder if it is just a matter of pride that keeps some of us from giving into culture's expectations that at a certain age, we should obediently sit down and become that accepting old person, dealt with in gentle condescension.

For many of us, I suspect that resisting the application of that image is a rebellion against giving up and quitting on life.  The dilemma is this: At what point should we just accept the inevitable and stop spending money on makeup, stylish clothes and striving for social media expertise to better function in today's sonic-speed communication? At some point, an old man or woman trying to maintain a youthful mind and personage just manages to look like, well, a silly old person not accepting old age with grace.   Where is that point?  I'm not sure.

Both of my daughters have their own lives and appear to be content. Between us, I don't think they would tell me if they weren't happy.  They are independent, fulfilled women who are just exactly who I prayed they would become.  It is I who flounder in the confusion between active adult and accepting senior.  I know who I am, and recognize the growing limitations of aging.  Somehow, though, my mind refuses to settle into the reality of a world that no longer needs my parenting or guidance: a world that goes on, even when I find myself having to stop and take a breath.

It's what God intends, I know.  And, I'm ready to meet Jesus face to face if it happens today.  But I find myself  wanting to do it in style, with classy clothes and a full head of hair in appropriate color and style. Somehow, I continue to believe that I have something worthwhile to share. I continue trying to fill each day with activities that allow me to utilize the wisdom and knowledge that I gained and could still impart, if only asked.  Many young adults don't acknowledge that their elders still have valuable thoughts to impart, and don't realize there are some ideas and thoughts which have no age limit. There are still things adult children can learn from parents, regardless of culture, age or health.  If nothing else, young people can learn how their parents found ways to never give up, or how to respectfully acknowledge the shadows of their own futures.

Is my attitude a rebellion against the inevitable?  Probably so.  But, then, I survived to become this age by resisting the urge to give up. My stubborn attitude hasn't aged a bit. This time of life is perplexing. Am I the only person fighting the battle against aging and insignificance?  Absolutely not. I am thankful for the knowledge that my God is with me and understands. I have faith that I will, at some point, gracefully sit down and be old.

But, not quite yet. I haven't received word from above that my battles are over. So, I'll continue fighting my fears, visiting my hair stylist, and finding ways to live in relatively-active anticipation of some day gracefully, and gratefully, sitting down and leaving life to the "youngin's."

#aging #lifechanges #grownchildren #ChristianAttitude