My Mother’s Remarkable Revelation on Aging

A recent phone call from Mother… “Julie, I’ve decided to embrace aging.”

“Seriously?”

“I suspect you’ve been praying I would.”

“I did get tired of hearing you complain about missing your 24-inch waist.”

Mother--June 1956

 

“Embrace isn’t the right word,” she said. “Embrace reminds me of that old song I love, ‘Embraceable You.'”

 

 

“Okay, so what’s the right word?”

“I’m not fretting about my age anymore. I’m not going to be shocked by it.”

(She’ll be 77 on Monday.) “What’s aging like?”

“You have to experience it for yourself. Like having a baby. Nobody can explain it.”

“How’s your thinking changed?”

“As you get older, whatever happens, you just deal with it. Because so much has already happened. You don’t panic anymore.”

“That’s a relief.”

“And if you want to talk to your pets like they’re real people, you do it.”

I smiled. You’ve been doing that for years, Mother.

“Are you content?” I said.

“If I don’t look in the mirror I am. My behind is gone.”

Please don’t ever lose your sense of humor. “Lots of women would love to have theirs gone. What are the perks of getting older?”

“I bought two books last week and read them in two days. I didn’t have to stop to drive carpool or cook supper.”

“What else?”

“I enjoy naps now,” she said brightly.

“That’s good.”

“Another thing. I enjoy saying no when asked to take on a responsibility. When you get older, you just say, ‘No.’ Also, when I’m going somewhere, I don’t call around to see what the other gals are wearing. I wear what I want to. Even if it’s inappropriate.”

“Sounds pretty fun.”

“Yesterday it was cold in the house, so on top of my pedal-pushers and T-shirt, I put on a long-sleeve pajama shirt, which didn’t match–with white socks and bedroom shoes. Four inches of skin showed on my legs. I knew it was tacky, but I thought, who cares. I went to the mailbox and waved to my neighbors anyway.”

 

“I’m proud of you.”

“Another thing. My mouth turns down now. I don’t want to look sad when I’m not, so I go around smiling no matter how I feel … or what’s happening in my world.”

 

 

“I love that. Sounds like you’re living The Serenity Prayer.”

“Maybe I am,” she said softly.                             *photo credit

Love,

Julie

P.S. I’ll be out of town next week so no blog post. Back with you on the 17th! XOXO

Part Two On Aging, Motherhood, and Marriage

Last week, I reposted parts of my friend Robin’s blog. Almost three years ago, Robin asked my mother how she felt about aging. Mother talks about that and a few more things below:

Thoughts on my feelings…

I’ve come to believe that our thoughts create our emotions. We only have eight seconds to refuse a thought. This has taken me a lifetime to even start to learn. I guard my thoughts like a mother lion guards her cubs. I’m allergic to fearful or worrying thoughts. They are not permitted to trespass in my mind. This discipline helps me every day.

Worry is a waste of time. I never thought I’d be free of worry and fear. They were constant companions. Not anymore. I give God praise for all He’s allowed to come into my life that’s allowed me to relinquish those two bothersome tag-alongs. Worry and fear. It’s never too late.

Thoughts on my grown children…

I’ve learned we can’t force a grown child to choose life. I don’t believe this is ever learned quickly or easily. Pain after pain after pain brought my solution.

I can’t do this, I told myself one day. I thought God smiled and said, Of course not, child. You were never supposed to.

Grown children make their own choices. Sometimes all we can do is stop trying to fix them and pray hard.

Thoughts on friends…

I have friends of all ages now. From teenagers to seniors much older than I am. Age isn’t a consideration at this time in my life!

I’ve learned not to say everything I think.

Sometimes I see a need that deserves to be met and there’s no one around but me. I meet it and my joy is explosive. People all around us need compassion (not pity). Some need a little money. Some need to laugh. And some need a Savior.

Thoughts on love…

When my husband of 25 years died of brain cancer in 1983, I knew my life was over. I couldn’t imagine going on. My greatest battle with fear ensued. God won that battle for me. It was moment by moment agony though. I was 46 when Jerry died and after a year or so, I began to talk to God about being a wife again.

I like being the other half of someone. After four years, He brought a Guideposts reader into my life and we fell in love through letters and phone calls.  In a four-month delicious courtship (in which we never met until becoming engaged) my life began over. I was so in love I couldn’t eat or sleep or concentrate. Gene Acuff and I have been married for 25 years this August. Sigh!

Gene made me feel like Cinderella–and still does occasionally! Life is good…welcome every day, every year, with an open heart.

(Here’s Mother story in Guideposts about their marriage.)

It’s Julie again. Lots of good stuff here. Thoughts?

Love,

Julie

 

 

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

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)

Love,

Julie