Aging (and Living) Gracefully


One day this spring, Mother fixed oyster stew and boiled custard. Two of my favorites. We sat at her worn oak kitchen table. Our centerpiece, a Mason jar full of daffodils from her yard.

“What’s it like getting older?”

“It happens before you know it, ” she said. “First you start taking a little sweater wherever you go.”

“I already do.”

She took a bite of stew. “Carrying a sweater is a comforting feeling. Like a baby with her blanket, or gentle loving arms around you.”

“What else?”

“Well, I was about 40 when a shoe saleslady handed me a pair of sturdy brown pumps and said, ‘This is what all the matrons are wearing this year.’ If that happens, tell her no thank you and run.”

“So, never admit to being a matron?”

“Never. You’ll learn to say no to a lot of other things, too.” Mother peered out her bay window. “I’ve fallen over the same rock twice this week, but women in our family fall well.” She smiled. “My mother said when you fall, don’t be afraid.”

“What’d you do after you fell?”

“I got up and kept going.”

Our eyes met for a second.

“Okay, what about throwing a good party?”

“Don’t go to a lotta trouble. Years ago, a lovely lady had a dinner party. She ordered pizza and served it on fine china. If the hostess is having a good time, everybody else will too.”

“Beauty tips?”

“Pure whipping cream for a facial, and when your eyelids droop over your eyes in the morning, use ice cubes.”

We were on a roll. “Housecleaning?”

“Nobody knows if you vacuum, which gives you a lot of freedom.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t waste time and energy caring what people think. That ages you. Pretty soon, you stop calling your friends to find out what they’re wearing. Wear what you want to and smile real big.”

“This sounds like so much fun.”

“It is.”

“Like you finally accept yourself, faults and all.” Almost like you become best friends with yourself.

“You do. And God is very patient with us,” Mother said. “He’ll wait decades if necessary. Wish I’d done it sooner.”

“…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NIV)




  1. Beautiful, Julie. Love the conversation with your mom. Blessings on both of you.
    And hugs, lots of hugs,

    • Julie says:

      Thank you dear B.J. Wish you were sitting at that table with us!

  2. Katie says:

    I can’t tell you are aging!! You’ve looked the same forever 🙂

  3. Sharon Mangas says:

    Beautiful! I need to print this off and post it in my home office!

    • Julie says:

      Thank you so much, Sharon. Blessings to you and yours.


  4. Julie, thanks for sharing your conversation with your mom. Love it. You certainly don’t look your age! I have to admit I’m at the sweater stage now.

    • Julie says:

      Why thank you, Mar. I’m lovin’ this sweater stage!

  5. Such wisdom at this table. 🙂 Love these conversations with your mom. We should do lunch together!

    • Julie says:

      We should! So much in common!! Redheaded writers. 🙂

  6. Barb King says:

    As always, beautiful Jules…just beautiful. I hope I age like your Mom 🙂

    • Julie says:

      I hope I do too, Barb. She’s a beautiful, lady.

  7. Kay Shostak says:

    Love it – thanks for sharing – And while we’re sharing. . . I’d love your mother’s Oyster Stew recipe. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      I’ll ask her, Kay. Knowing Mother, there’s no recipe. She doesn’t measure, but I’ll send you a FB message when I ask her. 🙂

  8. Beautiful, Julie! Wise, wise words…

  9. Lynne Gentry says:

    Oh, how I wish I’d been sitting there eating custard and oyster stew and drinking in the wisdom. Thanks for sharing your wonderful mother with all of us, Julie.

  10. Great advice from Mom! I especially like the one about not wasting energy worrying about what other people think. Wish I could remember that every day.

    • Julie says:

      Amen, Jennifer. Me too! Thank you so much for reading.

  11. Julie, please share many more of these treasures with us. It brought me back to that wonderful morning I sat with you and Marion around her beautiful table – enjoying baked treats and fresh fruit, and the wisdom of two sweet friends..

    • Julie says:

      I’ll never forget that day. The three of us had lunch/brunch at her table. So much love in her kitchen. Thank you so much for reading, Colleen. You’re a mighty special lady to so many.

  12. I once was in my forties and could relate to your responses. Now, in my sixties, I relate to your mom! I loved your conversation … more please. I wish my Aunt Eunice was as gentle with me about aging. She shakes her head and says, “There might be hope for you if you keep smearin’ vaseline on your face! And remember, always color your hair!” But I love the ol’ gal!

    • Julie says:

      Hey Sharon~~you gotta love it. Vaseline on our faces! Surely no wrinkles that way. There’ll be more from Mom soon–get ready. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

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