I embrace my life: my arms are wrapped so tightly around my 27-year-old existence that I often wish it had a pausing effect. It would be nice to halt the gray hair that's currently only adding "sparkle" before it completely squelches my brown; it would be nice to stop the backs of my legs from looking like a road map to Varicose Villa.
But I know the clock won't be stopped, and I do look forward to so many things, like meeting our future children and continuing on this road where my capacity for happiness seems to keep increasing. My reasons for wanting to freeze time are mostly cosmetic with a vain undertone, but I wish it weren't such a struggle to want to face a tomorrow where my outside appearance will inevitably continue to decrease in curb appeal.
I have a fat list of physical blows to be dreaded, and the recent news of a dear family friend tripping over her bedroom rug--not the curb, or the stairs, but a rug--landing herself in the hospital with a broken pelvis, sure doesn't help! I shouldn't act like this made my jaw drop. It's to be expected. She's 80.
(Note to self: my klutziness could become life-threatening.)
A few years ago, we were renting a basement apartment in Sandy, UT and the owners lived upstairs. We became friends with our time-worn landlords. Caroline, the wife, was my personal expert in crocheting and knitting, and her husband Ernie was always offering us his fresh garden vegetables. The night before we moved, we took a break from packing and cleaning and paid them a surprise visit late in the evening. They seemed thrilled to have us stop by, although slightly embarrassed.
"Don't mind me," Caroline giggled. "I already took my teeth out."
And that's when I was brutally reminded that sometimes when you get old your teeth fall out and you get dentures and remove them at night. Ack!
Still, dentures and all, Caroline was completely lovable and lit with life.
Life. I have to tell you about Verna Garrett, my aunt's mother. She must be in her 90s now, and I've heard countless stories about her acting like a 30-year-old wonder woman. Tales of how when she was about 84 years old, she drove daily to a neighboring town to attend a water walking class at 5:30am. One morning she ran out of gas in the middle of a large intersection, so she sat on the back bumper and pushed her car off to the side. Just as she managed to huff and puff her car to the curb, a policeman pulled over to ask what she was doing. Amazed that she had moved her car, he asked if there was anyone he could call for her. She declined, but said she would appreciate a ride to the pool.
(Um, I'm younger than 30, and there's no way I would've made it to water walking that morning, or any morning at 5:30am.)
When Verna went to the medical center to get her annual flu shot, a sign at the front desk informed her of a serum shortage and that flu shots would only be given to the "elderly." She read the sign and left, concluding that she'd have to come another time. When later rehearsing the dilemma to family, she said, "I know I'm older, but I'm certainly not elderly!"
Many "elderly" friends and loved-ones have shown me that although difficult, aging is a beautiful thing with the right attitude. I'm learning to look forward to the future, varicose veins and all. I want to savor each era, pass on my crocheting tricks, befriend a vain-stricken young woman one day and show her true inner youth and zest. Maybe I'll inspire her to fret less about the bags under her eyes.
Instead of digging my heels in and clinging to my age with a death grip, I'll welcome the birthdays. I'll embrace my life from within so when Death arrives, I can say,
"You're here already? Before we go, come look at this beautiful sunset."
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