Saturday, April 5, 2014

                                                         On Turning Seventy

     When I was a kid, people died before 70. When I was a kid, I didn’t give anyone over 12 a second thought. As I got older, I got some perspective. As a teen, I thought anyone over 25 was old. Anyone my grandmother’s age (fifty-something) was irrelevant. In my twenties, I began to listen to my grand-parents and realize that behind their wrinkles and out-dated clothes, there was wisdom. 

     In my twenties and early thirties, I was married and had children of my own. I missed the grand-parents I had lost and longed to have them hold my babies in their pleated arms. I remember climbing up on my grandpa’s lap when I was about four years old. He would just sit there quietly while I put steel curlers in the few strands of white hair still gracing his head. I mourn that I can no longer spend hours on my grandma’s porch drinking her wonderful coffee and eating her delicious home-made Swedish coffee bread on my occasional visits home from college. She hung onto my every word making me feel like a princess. How I would love to have her here now listening to me and my own grandchildren. I didn’t think about how old my grand-parents were; rather, how much I loved and respected them.

     In my forties, my age was relevant, as I was single and wondering if I would be alone forever. Suddenly, age mattered for the first time. I remembered my widowed grandmothers and how people felt sorry for them. I spent many hours reading about how to stay in the Now and how to gain inner peace. I dodged a few “near death” experiences, and those put things into perspective quickly. I vowed to live each day to the fullest and not worry about tomorrow. Unfortunately, once I survived these traumas, I fell back into the routine of whining about the price of gas or the extra pound gained over the week-end. Age was rarely on my mind.

     When a few of my friends turned fifty, they got very depressed. I had never been affected by the year of my birth, and I still wasn’t. I was newly-married, happy, healthy and leading a full life--not a perfect one, but a blessed one. 

     Even at 60, I was not worried about my age. Wrinkles and age spots were now in plain sight, but I was healthy, active and leading a life that I never could have imagined. 

     Now, at 70 years old, I know how much I don’t know. I know what it is to waste time worrying about things that never happen, but I still worry. I know that I will never be “mature,” and I will continue to be “inappropriate,” and that’s fine with me.I have more energy now than I had at twenty; I just choose not to do certain things because it’s not worth the physical or emotional effort. As of this moment, I have zero aches or pains, and I feel so blessed. I have all my faculties and can still do everything and more than I did when I was thirty. I look better than anytime in my life though I am plagued with wrinkled skin and age spots. 

     Do I still worry? Of course. Am I worried about where I’ll be ten years from now? Absolutely not. I prefer focusing on the moment and thanking God that I have today to learn, to listen, to reflect, to produce or to take a nap.

     I just pray that my grandchildren love me as much as I loved my dear grandparents and that I can teach them as much as I learned myself.

Seventy? Piece of cake.