No one tells you when you get there. No one says: You are now entering the gate of Old Age. I guess we’re just supposed to figure it out for ourselves.
Guess what - it’s sort of a surprise.
Maybe because we didn’t expect to get here.
It takes great courage to face it.
Most of us survived this long by jumping many hurdles. We made it, but not by accident.
I can no longer fool myself into thinking anyone can reach this age. I’ve lost many friends and relatives along the way. No accident if you reach old age.
Like warriors, we are not that far from death at any point.
Death can take any of us at the turn of a wheel or the onset of a disease.
Warriors fighting for their homeland hope to go home to friends or to someone special they left behind. For those aging, that is not an option. The only option is to move forward, to grow older. There is no going back.
If you are not in denial about aging, then you are one of the courageous.
We may hunger for the good ole days when we felt athletic and strong, but let’s face it: none of that is possible again. (Yardwork proves it to me.)
When the body starts going downhill and failing, it’s usually one organ at a time. Eventually, there may be a general ache, perhaps the bones telling the mind the full truth.
I say, Cling to love, the very thing that helped me get this far in life.
That’s my plan.
It served me well in the early and middle years. Evidently, I have further to go. So I’m hanging on and clinging to love.
Maybe that’s what is given to all of us at one time or another. It’s given to us, perhaps, to help us pilot our way through this earthly world and into the next.
If you think you missed the boat on love, you might try to remember how it came from a neighbor, the boy delivering newspapers, the waitress who always had a smile, a teacher.
It was there.
I hear that young warriors pray for a quick death if they are unlucky on the battlefield. Makes sense to me.
The old may pray a similar prayer, but a few will pray for a death where they can show love to others, whether it is quick or slow.
Now that is courageous.
author of Women, Resilient Women, 2018
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Photo of Viola Guffey, affectionately called “Mama” by her children and “Grandma” by her grandchildren. This photo is the one Pat Durmon prizes because it looks just like her in her old age.