"To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent--that is to triumph over old age."
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
I was talking to a relatively new friend the other day and we chatted about how important friendships are to the human spirit. My friend who provides a wide range of services to the elderly reminded me of how critical having caring people around us is to graceful aging.
We all know the value of staying physically and mentally active at all ages, this is especially true as aging takes its toll. There is an old adage that says when we share our load with someone else the burden is cut in half. What we need is to offer to share the loads of others and be grateful when they share ours.
I am fortunate to have a spouse who provides me welcomed support and friends who provide me a rich and full existence. Here is a story that I like. I don’t know who wrote it but it hits home for me.
Old Friends Forever
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, and my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avant garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."
A soldier was asked to report to headquarters for assignment. The sergeant said: "We have a critical shortage of typists. I'll give you a little test. Type this," he ordered, giving him a pamphlet to copy and a sheet of paper, and pointing to a desk across the room that held a typewriter and an adding machine. The soldier, quite reluctant to become a clerk typist, made a point of typing very slowly, and saw to it that his work contained as many errors as possible.
The sergeant gave the typed copy only a brief glance. "That's fine," he said. "Report for work at 8 tomorrow." "But aren't you going to check the test?" the prospective clerk asked. The sergeant grinned.
"You passed the test," he replied, "when you sat down at the typewriter instead of at the adding machine.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
The doctor that had been seeing an 80-year-old woman for most of her life finally retired. At her next checkup, the new doctor told her to bring a list of all the medicines that had been prescribed for her.
As the young doctor was looking through these, his eyes grew wide as he realized she had a prescription for birth control pills!!
"Mrs. Smith, do you realize these are BIRTH CONTROL pills?!?"
"Yes, they help me sleep at night."
"Mrs. Smith, I assure you there is absolutely NOTHING in these that could possibly help you sleep at night!"
She reached out and patted the young Doctor's knee.
"Yes, dear, I know that. But every morning, I grind one up and mix it in the glass of orange juice that my 16 year old granddaughter drinks...
And believe me.......it helps me sleep at night!!!"
We have enough people who tell it like it is; now we could use a few who can tell it like it can be.
Lil' Johnny's mother took her 6 year old son with her to the bank. They were in line behind a rather obese lady. As the mother patiently waited, Lil' Johnny looked at the women in front of him and observed loudly, "Hey, Mom, she's really fat."
The lady looked at Johnny, made eye contact with his mother and gave an understanding smile. Lil' Johnny received a reprimand.
After a minute or two, Lil' Johnny spread his hands as far as they will go and loudly said, "I bet her butt is 'that' wide."
At this the lady glared at Johnny. His embarrassed mother severely scolds her son.
Again after a couple of minutes Lil' Johnny stated loudly, "Look how the fat hangs over her belt." The lady turned and told Johnny's mother to control her child and his mother threatened him with severe bodily harm.
The lady's pager begins to go off. Lil' Johnny yelled in a panic at the top of his voice, "Run for your life, she's backing up"
Don't be so humble, you're not that great.
A Stanford Medical research group advertised for participants in a study of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They were looking for therapy clients who had been diagnosed with this disorder. The response was gratifying; they got 3,000 responses about three days after the ad came out. All from the same person.
"Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure."
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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