Before I Get Older
My paternal grandmother, like us all, had her quirks and her shortcomings woven together with her strengths and shining points. Her hot cross buns could double as paperweights while her spice cookies and pumpkin pies were wolfed down. She could clutch her hurts long and hard while making sure the pantry and deep freeze were always stocked with goodies for her grandkids. She was a (at times) dramatic hypochondriac while facing her later years with aplomb. She once said to Jeff and I, “I’m so busy with what I can still do, I’m not worried about the stuff I can’t do.” At the time, she was 90 years old, had just moved out of her own house into a seniors’ apartment complex of sorts, and had a summer of dress making and great-grandchild spoiling ahead of her. As I see my parents and my husband’s parents getting older, as I watch nieces and nephews get ever-closer to adulthood, I am realizing that statement about staying busy with all I can do is one I need to get into me. I want to get it deep in my heart and my soul before I am, well, older*. Not that I think that attitude alone will shield me from the twists and turns that may or may not be ahead of me. I’ve seen how circumstances can come out of left field and knock you off your feet – things like unexpected health issues, economic or financial slumps, familial relations going sour, and the like.
And yet – could it be my heart and my soul will be able to bear such things with more grace and hope if I’m still able to see at least one blessing in the midst of life’s storms? Could it be that, even as my body may one day not do all it does now, I’ll get back up on my feet sooner with such an outlook? I’d like to find out, at any rate. I don’t want to be so busy mourning all my “cannots” that I lose sight of all my “cans”.
*I am quite fond of this quote from Oliver Wendall Holmes: “Old age is 15 years older than I am.” Maybe I should work that into a tattoo for a constant reminder ...