As she celebrates her 75th birthday, Jean L., one of the Arnicare “Dear Aging” contest winners, reflects fondly on her life experiences.
- Posted on Oct 8, 2020
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As you get older, how can you accept the many changes your mind, body and health will undergo? Guideposts.org teamed up with Arnicare for the “Dear Aging” contest to find out. Readers were asked to share their growing older stories, wisdom and experiences, from writing about how their bodies have changed to what they’re doing to stay healthy.
The experience, for Jean L., has been one of a long-term, somewhat cooperative friendship. She shares what she’s learned over the decades—from dating, learning to drive, career and children and then grandchildren—and what she hopes for the future.
As I celebrate my 75th birthday this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about old friends. Since you’ve been with me all of those 75 years and I know we will remain close for the rest of my life, I thought it would be fun to send you a note and reminisce.
I don’t remember the first few years we were together, though I’m told I was in a real hurry to walk and talk. I do remember how thrilled I was when you showed up for my 6th birthday, and I was finally old enough to start school. You were right there with me, through the excitement of experiencing the world around me. Then I couldn’t wait to be ten and no longer in the age of single digits.
Although those formative years were fun and exciting, I was so impatient to get started on the teenage years. Sometimes I thought you would never catch up. Where were you when I was waiting to turn 16, so I could feel the freedom of driving a car? Where were you when I was too young for that after school job? Where were you when I was too young for the boy of my dreams to notice me? Although it wouldn’t have mattered if he did because I was too young to date! Where were you when I was too young to vote? I had all the answers and could have saved the world! Sorry old friend, but you moved way to slow through those teen years.
Ah, but then you woke up and began to push me once more. Suddenly I was old enough for all the adult responsibilities I’d been waiting for. So much to do; education, career choices, weddings, children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, mortgages, wars, illnesses, deaths; the list seemed to keep getting longer and you just kept moving me right along.
Then in my 50s and 60s, when things slowed down a bit, I looked in the mirror and realized that while I had been busy dealing with life, you had been busy working on my body. You were thinning my hair and turning it gray; you were turning my muscles to flab; you were clogging my arteries; you were turning some of my favorite foods against me. My eyesight wasn’t as clear, my hearing not as sharp, and my bones were not as strong as they had been just a few years past. And where did you find all those annoying joint pains? You were not being kind.
Now, Age—old friend—as I move into my 70s and beyond, I must decide, are we still going to be friends? Are we going to spend our time and energy fighting each other, with me trying to hide you and you determined to turn me into the cranky old lady I swore I’d never be? Or, are we going to continue our journey gracefully, accepting each other’s abilities as well as our limitations?
I’ve decided that God’s purpose for putting you in my life has been, and will continue to be, for you to push me, pull me, speed me up and slow me down throughout my lifetime.
So, let’s go! You push and I’ll pull! But maybe we’ll slow the pace a little from now on, what do you say?
Your friend for life