Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Thoughts On Aging


Sometimes, when the light is just right, I look at my reflection in the mirror 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.

When I celebrate my next birthday, I will be closer to 80 than 70. It has gotten  me thinking about aging. I don't have all of my thoughts sorted out yet. 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. 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.

A few years ago as while visiting with my sister-in-law 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, it seems, 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 and acceptance.

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