Compartmentalizing the Process of Aging

This Facebook meme made me giggle:

It seemed particularly appropriate because I marked a milestone birthday this month. Years ago upon reaching 65 I declared myself ‘officially old’ because it was society’s perceived age of retirement and  I finally qualified for Canada’s OAP. Now, having reached ‘Lvl 80’, I’m not sure what I am. Maybe ‘officially ancient’? 

There are lots of clichés about aging… about only being as old as you feel, or about age being an issue of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. An elderly woman in our church was once asked how she was feeling and cheerfully replied, “Oh, I’m feeling just fine, thanks, but my body is wearing out.” Another elderly woman of a similar age, while receiving some physical assistance, complained bitterly about her limitations and said, “I wish you could just shoot me.” Granted, their home situations differed, but their attitudes affected both how they viewed their conditions and how their friends related to them.

A writing friend recently reviewed a story about a woman with total amnesia who looked in the mirror and was distraught when she didn’t recognize the woman she saw. She considered herself much younger than the wrinkled, grey-haired reflection. When I look in the mirror, I’m not upset, but sometimes I’m surprised by who is looking back at me. Surely that’s my grandmother! But no, she died back in 1967 when she was 70. Yikes! I’m already ten years older than she was. Definitely ancient!

Aging is a fascinating process. Looking back, I view my life as a series of videos, each covering a block of approximately twenty years…

  • Block  I — Childhood, School
  • Block 2 — Marriage, Family
  • Block 3 — Empty Nest, Second Career
  • Block 4 — Retirement

In retrospect, each block was a fulfilling, growing experience as it built on the previous one. I have no idea what this fifth block is going to look like; it’s a video still in the recording process. I know I’m more accepting/forgiving of my shortcomings now, and I have different goals from those of twenty, forty or sixty years ago. But I do still have goals, and I look at them now with a greater sense of urgency since the years ahead don’t stretch out with the same sense of indefiniteness that they once did.

When I think of the two women mentioned above (who were in their late-90s at the time), I hope my attitudes will more often resemble those of the first one when it comes to accepting the challenges my latter years may bring. Then with a continuation of some of the blessings God has granted me in the past plus a bit of good ol’ Irish luck as the future unfolds, perhaps at the end I’ll be able to entitle the final video Block 5 — Goals Reached.

Whatever the case, I’m content to be celebrating the achievement of ‘Lvl 80‘ in this game of Life!

~  ~  ~

6 thoughts on “Compartmentalizing the Process of Aging

  1. Darlene says:

    Congratulations on reaching another level. I know you will enjoy this level as much as you did the others. xo

    • Carol says:

      Thanks, Darlene. I don’t anticipate much of an attitude change so I imagine I’ll continue to find blessings in each new day and whatever it brings my way. 🙂

  2. You are the picture of a new 80-woman. Like wonderwoman! My hero and the hero to many, I would bet. I’m 67 in a few months and I spend way too much time worrying about how fast life is going by. Stop and smell the roses, right?!

  3. Carol says:

    I don’t know how I missed this, Joylene, but I guess my excuse has to be that I haven’t been spending enough time working on this blog! One thing I can say for increasing age is that there’s always something more to do and not enough hours in a day to do it. LOL. But yes, I do stop and appreciate things more now.

  4. Pat Bertram says:

    You’re like the first woman. Definitely. Sometimes, though, I wonder how much of life really is attitude and how much is about the pain we’re in. It’s easier to be upbeat if you’re not tensed up against some immense physical pain. I sometimes wonder which of those attitudes I would have. Sometimes I think the first; sometimes I think it might be good to be curmudgeonly.

    • Carol says:

      Ha, yes, curmudgeonly might feel justified sometimes. I don’t know how much pain had to do with this situation because, of the two women, I think it was the first who was experiencing more discomfort.

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