The wonderful benefits of growing old

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The wonderful benefits of growing old

So, I insist that aging is a blessing.  Along with its many challenges, it occasionally allows us opportunities to observe the blue heron.— Senior Moments column, 2003.

            June is my birthday month.  Another year has, unbelievably, passed.  I remember Senator Leo Green saying “…that’s the age where you shouldn’t buy any green bananas!”

            June is also the birthday month of my youngest grand-daughter who just turned 3.  She had a Minnie Mouse themed birthday party, and was very excited about her birthday in general. Her party was at Joyful Jumps in Bowie, and she and her friends bounced on fun things until they were exhausted. 

            It is instructive to think about the differences in her birthday and mine. If it is God’s will, the 3 year old princess has many more days ahead of her than are behind her.  In my case, I have lived more days than are left for me to live.  Even if I should live to age 100, the years between my current age and that number seem far too few.

            There are so many things to be done, so many places to go, such a lot of wishes in my bucket list. All true, but …

            Each day given to me seems somehow more meaningful. The exploratory drives Toby and I enjoy are more delightful than ever, full of new discoveries, reading historical markers, and being always open to learning new things. A simple book we read aloud together is fascinating and each becomes an “all time favorite.”   Each new book has the potential to push down our last “number one” book to the second spot.   We have discovered that if we say we are going to nap in the recliners, everyone says “great” and off we go for that great mid-day power nap. 

            All this brings me to something I received several years ago from, of all things, my credit union!  It was listing some wonderful benefits of growing old.  Here are some of them:

           Your kids finally realize you know more than they do.  You are not expected to remember people’s names.  You can go through the express line at the supermarket with more than the allowed items, and no one will say anything.  Your kids have left home for good.  You can get discounts on almost anything.  You don’t have to live near good schools.  You don’t have to call anyone “Sir.”  You can tell your favorite jokes over and over again.

            You don’t have to stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve.  People ask for your advice and actually listen to it.  It’s more important that your shoes are comfortable than that they look good.  You can fall asleep at the opera.  You can call delivery boys “sonny.”  You can hire someone to do all your lawn work.  You are no longer impressed by people’s job titles.  You finally understand your parents.

            More benefits:  You can admit you hate modern art.  You never want to be 21 again.  You and your spouse start holding hands again.  You’ve finally figured out what success is.  High School reunions are actually fun.  Your kids realize how hard it is to be a parent.  You don’t have to eat your spinach.  You know most of the answers on Jeopardy.  Your grandchildren are crazy about you. 

            Even more:  You don’t mind putting up with bores.  Your wife stops trying new recipes on you.  You can go to bed anytime you feel like it.  Your old Buick is a “Classic.”  You understand, finally, that money really isn’t everything.  You can always get a seat on the metro.  You’re old enough to have acquired wisdom, but still young enough to use it.  Likely, you can afford to see Paris in the springtime, and maybe go to Florida in the winter.  Your kids cook Thanksgiving Dinner and clean up.

This list made me smile.  Much of it is true for me, and I am enjoying every minute.  Of course, there’s the matter of some new pain from somewhere in the mornings, and of losing my purse or my cell phone too often.  Those things just pale when compared to the joy (really) of having life and health for each new day.  Amazing.

            Writing this column caused me to look up a very old one near the back of the first “Senior Moments” book.  There was a discussion regarding how people growing older get depressed because they are “un-needed.”  I thought about that and then insisted that un-needed can be a very good thing.  Consider this:  Un-needed is restful – there is no excuse not to nap in my favorite easy chair.  Un-needed is creative – finally, I can write my novel, read my unread books, and learn about anything I want to learn.  Un-needed is freedom – I don’t have to adjust my life by someone else’s schedule.  Unneeded is hope – there is time to imagine unlimited, wondrous future events.  Unneeded is adventurous – so much to see and do, and finally enough time.  Unneeded is inspiring – watching others lead by the example we have set.  Unneeded is beautiful – time to sit still and enjoy the sunset. Try it!

            Thank you for reading.  Stay well.  See you next week.

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