Monday, November 2, 2009

Aging with Grace & Style

It's not always easy to feel good as we age; about our appearance, our accomplishments, our future. It's a very uncertain time for many of us. Every now and then though I am reminded that it is possible to grab a bit of dignity here and there along the way.

I was on vacation last week, taking a much needed respite from the stress and strain of my mother's passing. My husband and I were swinging happily on an outdoor swing that provided us a perfect view of the ocean. The day was glorious, the ocean breeze refreshing. We were reminiscing about days gone by and I for one was feeling very melancholy. People passed by as they made their way from pool to beach and back again, slogging and squeaking in their annoying "Crocs" and flip flops. We wondered why we were the only ones who were content to sit and swing and then we remembered. We are now "Seniors" and that's what they do! It made me shudder but didn't make me move.

As I people watched, a woman about our age passed by pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair who reminded me for all the world of my mother. She was no doubt in her 90's; small, spry and very alert, wrapped comfortably in her sweater and hat despite the 85 degree weather. What caught my eye apart from her resemblance to my mother was the huge smile she was also wearing. This particular elderly woman was taking in everything around her with the greatest of interest and enjoyment. It was clear she was not going to leave behind one ounce of pleasure to be discovered during her day at the ocean, despite her confinement to her wheelchair and her advancing age. My mother was much like that. She embraced the world every day of her life.

I realized as I watched her go by that I had something to learn from her. Life is not so much about the big things as the little things and there is much enjoyment to be unearthed in each and every one. She epitomized to me what aging with dignity and grace are all about. This charming little woman was not letting her last days on earth slip through her fingers by feeling sorry for herself. She was taking life by the horns in whatever way she could, even if it was from the passenger's seat. Perhaps she could no longer hop, skip or jump with the children, or lie languidly in a bikini with the young women, or even push a walker down a path, but she could take in the beauty that surrounded her and relish the play of the children in the ocean waves. She had chosen to enjoy what was still hers in this life and so can we.

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