Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The wonderful roller coaster that is aging

I'm not afraid of growing older. I don't know if I have ever been, but for that 3 month period before I turned 30 when I realized I'd be a grown up.

My mom used to say I'd been 42 since I was 6, so I guess my body has just been catching up with my soul. I'm okay with that.

I don't fear death, so I gather that is why I don't worry about getting closer to it. I'm not itching to get there, by any means, but I approach it with the curiosity of an anthropologist in another culture. "Oh, that's what it's like!"

Babushka 01

My mother was afraid of getting older. She had good reason - she had watched her father spiral into Alzheimer's and become someone none of us recognized.  It's difficult to watch the person you knew die before your eyes and be replaced with a confused, angry, helpless old man. Mom dreaded becoming that -- losing herself.

I wonder, had she known she would never age beyond 55 years, would she have been able to relax? Knowing my mother? No. Relaxing wasn't in her nature.

I've now watched the life cycles of two important women in my life come to an end or near the end in two totally different times of their lives. My mother at 55 and my grandmother in her 90s. Grandma is still going relatively strong, but it's been interesting to see how she has forayed into this end of her life.

Aging isn't graceful. However, the person going into aging can be. My mother transformed at 50. She blossomed and became the woman who she had always meant to be but was hidden under a surface of insecurity and worry.
Mom and Dad (2)
Mom and Dad circa 2000

Mom turned 50, said "Eff it!" and exploded into herself. Sure, she had sagging skin, chin hairs, and hot flashes, but what physically was occurring in her aging process was completely overshadowed by her self discovery.

I think Grandma has always been herself. Or, she has always been who she knew she needed to be.  Grandma is so much "Acts of Service" she would temper herself to be what we all needed.  That being said, her sense of humour and rebellious nature that lay just below the surface would peek its head out, say something outrageous, and pop back in like nothing was out of place.

photo by Ky

Physically, though Grandma was wee, she was mighty. Walking up and down 20 stairs to and from her apartment numerous times a day kept her strong. Even today, she can out lift, out run, and out work anyone I've ever met.  Mentally, she has slipped bit by bit into forgetfulness. (Or, as we call it - 5 second memory reset.)  Grandma is still who she ever was (unlike her husband at the end) but forgets people, places and things for brief or extended periods of time.

I don't worry that memory lost or physical deterioration will get me. Each - if they occur - will be an adventure. Sure, I might not remember the adventure, but it still will be! I'm not looking forward to wetting my pants regularly or forgetting where I live, but that's how life goes and I plan to enjoy all of it.

I figure, if I make it past 55, I'm good until I'm 90.  Ride on.


  1. The picture of your Mom and I was taken in 2000. 30 is tough for most folks. 40 is awesome.

    1. Fixed it. Thanks Pop. Yes, I hated turning 30 but LOVED my 30s. I think 40 will be good too.

  2. That is an awesome picture of your parents! And your Grandma, well she is incomparable! As my mother always says of our family if you don't die young, you live a long time! Here's hoping!

  3. I'm really intrigued by your comment about your mother going on a journey of self-discovery once she turned 50. Any chance you'll write more about that in a future post?

    1. I might, Alia, but it is a long story that involves my Dad and things I'm not sure I can share in public. I will however tell you all the dirt over coffee!


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