August 2014 – Celebrate Aging!

A great deal is made about getting older—most of it negative. Adding days and years, even minutes and hours, is something to be celebrated. This month, my minutes, hours and days are adding up to 75 years. 75? How did I get here? I guess I did it just like everyone else—one day at a time.

I certainly have never given much thought to reaching any given age. When you’re 16, life is a banquet waiting for you. When you’re 21, you’ve had a small taste of that banquet called life and can hardly wait to see what lies ahead. Then suddenly, you’re looking at 75! Where did the time go? What have I done with all those minutes and hours? I know enough not to wonder what’s ahead.

There are a few other things I know now that I didn’t back at 21. A loving family is better than gold. Coming a close second are loving friends, both old and new. Friends help fill in the spaces in life when you no longer live geographically close to family. As we have moved around, we’ve added to our blessings with friends from Fairmont, West Virginia; Oswego, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Kentucky; and now North Carolina.

I’ve learned to never say “never.” Then I learned to never say goodbye. My family says I always want the last word and yes, I do. Not in an argument (although that’s OK, too) but in conversations. I’m pretty sure I can trace that trait to good old-fashioned Irish stubbornness. Over the years, I’ve gathered a lot of stories and tend to use them to make a point. I’ve done a lot of community work for a good majority of these 75 years, thus many interesting tales have attached themselves to my repertoire. One sign of my age might be that I sometimes can’t remember the participants in a story or where it happened. Years ago, I heard an older woman say, “Oh, my mind must be full,” when she forgot something. I have borrowed her phrase many times.

I’ve learned that forgiveness and second, third or even tenth chances must be part of life. Carrying grudges is a heavy task, so let’s let them go.
I’ve learned that real people appreciate you for who you are, not what you have or what you can do for them. I’ve also learned that real people are sincere, kind and caring and I’m lucky to know them. As for pretend people, we are not really in the same universe.

I know that I’ve had a very good life and express gratitude daily. That does not make me blind to those who are struggling, even though one dear friend keeps telling me that I can’t fix the world. Maybe not, but I can keep trying.

I’m particularly grateful to still have a writing career. When I thought I might be put out to pasture, OutreachNC came along. I may be the token “older” person at the magazine, but it’s great fun to be part of a bright, young and talented bunch.

My only brother, younger of course, tells me each year to “consider the alternative” to having a birthday. He means well.

A good friend gave me words for us all to live by:
It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old.

So let the celebration begin!


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