As she got older, my mother used to speak despairingly about ‘old people.’ At the time, she was in her mid-eighties and my step-father in his mid-nineties. They were still dancing occasionally and playing cards at the church at least three or four times a week. They did at least one or two cross country road trips a year and made special trips to Vegas too. They had an active and busy lifestyle.
I was always a bit embarrassed when my mother would begin one of her lectures about those crabby, complaining, always negative old folks. Whether at church, the senior center or dance halls, some of the old people would complain about their aches and pains. They didn’t want to pay taxes. They didn’t like how government governed. Their sporting teams weren’t being well coached and kids nowadays (oh, don’t get me started.) My mother wanted none of it.
At first, I thought that old people shouldn’t complain about other old people. I get it now. If your mind is in a different place and your attitude is better, then objecting to all that group’s negativity is perfectly normal. As the advertisement goes: Age is just a number and mine’s unlisted. Except it should read: Age is a mind-set and mine is still in search of more…of anything.
While my body can’t deny it’s age or the toll that decades of running has done to my joints; my mind is still clear and functioning everyday (I hope). My social skills have only improved marginally and my wife has all but given up on improving me in that area. Yet, overall, reaching seventy or eighty or ninety for that matter counts less than where your mind, attitude, aptitude and focus is at.
This is the next (or next to last) plateau for almost all of us. Class reunions, family gatherings, group photo shoots all remind us that there is no time to be wasting. A closer examination and we find that someone is usually missing from the photograph. As the cliché’s go; ‘Appreciate what you have now and not into the future.’ ‘Count each day as a gift’ and ‘enjoy the moment while it lasts.’
My mother wasn’t the most subtle when it came to criticizing other’s behavior but I think her heart was in a good place. Looking back on her life, working career and later on, the life she built with my step-father, I think she was just grabbing every opportunity she could to continue growing and learning and living. She got it right.
Treasure your friends and family. They’re the only ones you got for the journey ahead. Accept the aches and pains of growing old, keep your body and head moving every day, and be grateful each morning that you’ve got another day to do it all over again.