Monday, November 4, 2013

Thoughts On Aging

Sometimes, when the light is just right, I look at my reflection and wonder who that old woman is. It's hard to write those words for some reason. I hesitated before tapping out "old woman." I wonder that it should be so.

I have another birthday rapidly approaching. This one will put me much closer to seventy than sixty. It has gotten  me thinking about aging. I don't have all of my thoughts sorted out just yet (Could that be another of those signs of aging?). But as I work through them I'll try to put them into words every now and then.

I love words, but find the things lodged deepest in my heart are the most difficult to write.

Not too long ago I watched a news story concerning an "elderly" person. It turns out said person was my age. Elderly. I hadn't thought of myself in those terms, but I understood that in the eyes of a twenty-something reporter that person was indeed just this side of ancient.

My fear in writing about aging is I will speak in generalities and do exactly what I think our society does to those of us neatly filed under the label "senior citizen." That isn't my intent. I mean to share only my own thoughts, such as they are.

I spent a few weeks with my sister-in-law recently, and we talked about how it feels to grow old. We discussed the way our looks have changed with time and the subtle way it marginalizes us. It is easy to overlook the ones with the wrinkles, lines and aging bodies. I am at a loss as to how to accurately describe it. We simply get the underlying message that our time is done and it's time for youth and beauty to step onto center stage.

Women who age in the public eye seem to have gotten the message that unless they can do a bit of surgical nipping and tucking they will have to be sent to the sidelines. I've caught myself standing in front of the mirror pulling the skin of my face taught. I don't think there is anything wrong with plastic surgery, but it saddens me when it is done in a desperate attempt for approval.

I look at my ninety year old mother, her face filled with lines and age spots, and understand some day it will be my face too. But if I can still have that same radiant joy she has when she smiles; if I can draw others to me by gentle grace; if I can encourage and love those around me - I will wear them gladly.