On Aging, Motherhood, and Vanity

Now that I’m a smidge over 50, I’d like to share my mother’s thoughts on aging. Some things are worth preserving.

Almost three years ago, my BFF Robin had the nifty idea of asking my mom (Marion Bond West) how she felt about aging.  Mother doesn’t use a computer. She typed her response and snail-mailed it to Robin.

Robin posted Mom’s thoughts on her amazing BLOG (All Things Heart and Home) and I decided to repost it for you.

And speaking of Robin’s blog–it’s one you’ll want to follow~~~

My mother, 75, is a contributing editor for Guideposts magazine, and incredibly honest. Her thoughts are below in bold.

Aging is not what I thought.

It’s like the old timers told me decades ago. “On the inside, I still feel 35, 20, or even ten years old!”

Now I know what that means.

My insides–my emotions–still want to do energetic stuff. Clean house, run, engage in passion with my husband, organize my closet, my paper-strewn office, answer mail, shop ’til I drop, vacuum (well, I never did believe in vacuuming, to be totally honest).

As my wonderful mother (who died in 2001) said, “I’m fine–I just have the old age infirmities.” She died at 92 and beat cancer three times. I believe because she wasn’t afraid of it–or of anything. She was quite a mom. If I could mother  my children over again, I’d do for them what my mother did for me. She marveled every time she saw me as though I’d just returned from the moon.

I can’t remember her ever looking at me without smiling.

She made me feel like I was special (which holds over today) and I was/am barely average.

The way she treated me stayed with me for a lifetime.

Moms, what you do matters.

As you get older, occasionally you get a pleasant surprise. After I turned 70, I discovered I had naturally curly hair! In my younger years, I’d prayed for it, fervently, as well as a turned-up nose, and size 5 1/2 feet rather (rather than 8 1/2).

 I only discovered my curls because was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and couldn’t put hours into my hair care every week. So I shampooed it and fell back into bed. I awoke with curly hair! Oh, joy! Now, I only wash and scrunch it (and of course have it colored a believable reddish/copper). 🙂

I’m a little bit vain. When I travel, half  my luggage is all the things I use from the neck up! I also have to bring all my prescriptions. I take a bunch of them–one being a weekly injection of Embrel for rheumatoid arthritis. It’s working, now I’m mostly pain-free! But with the RA, I do have to guard my energy. I don’t hesitate to say no to anything I don’t want to do.

That’s another nice thing about getting older–not feeling the need to say yes to everything.

But there are some things I love that I don’t get to do anymore. I walked 4 miles a day (early mornings) up until 3 years ago, when the RA became tough. I miss early morning walks.

Here’s something else about aging. My arms. I hate the wrinkly skin on my arms when I hold them up. But I’ve figured out how to cope with that….I just keep my arms down! You’ve got to roll with the punches.

Okay, it’s me again, Julie.

(Here’s Mom’s article in GUIDEPOSTS about being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.)

So, what do you think? Do you have a hard time saying no? Have you learned that little life lesson? I’m getting much better at it. 🙂

And what about my grandmother? She wasn’t afraid of anything! Ever. And what about Mother’s sweet thoughts on motherhood?

Have you learned to roll with the punches–with whatever you might be struggling with right now? I’m still working on this one. Maybe it comes after age 70 like Mother’s curly hair. 🙂

I’ll post more of Mother’s thoughts next Wednesday. Thank you for visiting!

Love,

Julie

Comments

  1. I love your mother, Julie, thanks for this great post.

  2. Loved it, thank you for sharing!!

  3. That is so beautiful! She makes aging seem like something we can look forward to in many ways. I always appreciate perspective from generations older than myself. Thanks for sharing her sweet heart!

    • She totally does, Sarah–she makes aging look fun. And I can speak for the 50ish crowd….there are definately perks to it. 🙂

  4. She helped me then and her words help me now…I love that mom of yours – she’s grace personified, with a delicious Southern lilt and an edgy sense of humor…oh to learn from MBWA…
    xo
    R

  5. And you were the ONE Robin who wanted to interview her. So wise. Thank you.

  6. Brenda Greene says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’ve been a HUGE fan of your Mom’s for years…read everything she’s ever written, I’m 10 years younger and she was a big help in my learning to walk with the Lord. Heard her speak in person about 15 years ago at a local Women’s Retreat. I just finished reading her recent book (Praying for My Life) last night and as I was logging it in my reading journal this morning discovered that was the third time I had read it!

    Neat story behind that particular book. I pre-ordered the (softback) copy from Guideposts when they first published it. Loved it (sent up many prayers for your family) and shared with several Moms in our church struggling with children and addictions. I never got it back. Recently while “rambling” in a local thrift store, ran across a hardback copy, new, dust cover (much nicer than my original one) and was signed “Blessing, Marion Bond West, October 2011” A real serendipity…and a God-wink for sure!

    I follow your blog because you’re SO much like her! Love your many articles in Guideposts; both our daughters and I have been reading Daily Guideposts for 20+ years. We can’t wait to get the new ones every Christmas and reading the “family news” updates. Love that you are a contributor there also. Thanks for sharing your heart and everyday life! May God continue to bless your writing so our grandchildren will be raised by God-fearing Mamas!

    • Ohhhh, Brenda. What a lovely response. Can’t wait to call Mom and read it to her! What a deep joy that her book so affected you and those around you. Makes me smile clear down to my tippy toes.

      So much love,
      Julie

  7. You don’t look a smidge over 40, Julie. And your mom, bless her heart for sharing, looks way younger than in her 70s.

    What do I think about aging? It’s part of life. And someone said to me once, “it’s better than the alternative.” Like Marion, I keep my arms down and I color my hair. I watch what I eat because I feel better when I’m not what I call “pudgy” and I have more energy when I eat what’s right for me. I like how Marion works into her life what she can, when she can. And I like how she accepts things as they come: like the curly hair. And your grandmother? She sounds like a neat lady, too. What a fabulous girly-filled family you all are. Love & hugs!

    • Love it, love it, love it….you “keep your arms down and color your hair.” Sort of like part of the Serenity Prayer–accepting those things we can’t change.

      Love you my friend. xoxo xoxo xoxo

      Have a wonderful time in NY!

  8. I love how you treasure your momma, and the sweet relationship you seem to have. I lost my own mother in early adult years, and miss having these kinds of conversations. The ones that matter. When my mom died, I was still in the stage of being annoyed with her and failed to treasure the deeper things that were to come, had she lived.

    • I’m so sorry, Kellie. You’re right. It’s these kinds of “everyday” conversations that matter–though I didn’t realize it for years. Love your honesty, my friend. And I love you too. You’re one wise lady and one dear friend to me.

  9. Jackie S. says:

    Thanks, Julie…..always a blessing to hear words from your Mom! I have been a fan of hers since first book she wrote. I have read them all. Heard her speak back then at a Christian Women’s lunch in Covington, GA. Now I enjoy your blog. I am “close” to your Mom’s age! lol

    Blessings~~~

    • Hey Jackie, thanks so much for letting me know you’re reading. 🙂 🙂 I’ll tell Mom your kind words. I’m so glad to “meet” you! xoxo xoxo

  10. ugh! I’m a “smidge” under 50 — & I’m not going peacefully!

    I love the manner your mom uses when she references her mother. It is in the same cherished tone you write regarding your own. What a blessing to have such a heritage of love!

  11. Tell your Mom Hi from me! Sometimes I hear “You’re only as old as you feel” but then I think, “I feel really old!” But as your Mom so insightfully points out, it’s all in how we choose to think about it. We can’t choose our age but we can choose our attitude!

  12. I sure will, Peggy. Can’t wait to hear about NY!!! Hello and love from Mom and me.

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