Getting Older = Getting Wiser

August 19, 2010 by  
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One of my favorite phrases these days is: “One of the good things about getting older is experience.”   I’m still learning – just as I did when I was a child and a teenager – but backing me up now is my life experience.  Today I know in my DNA, nothing stays the same.  Life is in constant transformation and if sometimes we feel we are cornered we will soon be proven wrong.

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Learning To Age

May 6, 2010 by  
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hosOne of the things I’m always sorry about is how few elder friends or elder family members we have around to share their wisdom and experience with us.

We all avoid age like it is the plague but the truth is; either we get old or we die.  So somehow we need to learn how to age.  But where are the stories about people in their 70s ,80s, 90s on television?  Or in the movies?  Or many of us socialize with older people? And how many of us can go to our parents for advice?

Most of my friends either treat their parents as children or never had or are about to have a meaningful friendship with their parents.

I’m close to my parents.  I also seek out making friends with older people because I want to know how to age.  I don’t want to be caught with my pants down when my time comes.

I know aging means accepting the physical changes that happen to us.  Sometimes it is not an easy process, especially for us women whose physical attributes are so cherished in our society.  So I bargain with life.  I let some of my youthful energy go in exchange for wisdom.  And I ask my older friends and my parents how to they do it.

My mom is always saying things like: “we all walk in the dark”, or “we have to be happy today”.  Hearing those words from a woman who just turned 79 years old carries more weight than from a woman in her 30s or 40s because she says it from experience.  And then she laughs and she’s always ready to do things.

When I spend time with her, I realize there is a way to age that does not give up on life.  It’s a way that recognizes the different phases and knows how to adapt.

As I see my parents walking still holding hands and loving each other after 51 years of marriage, I know love lives on if cared for by people.

I’m not saying I’m looking forward to aging but by talking and spending quality time with older people, I know life can still be great in our 70s, 80s and 90s.

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Grandma Lee And Other Older Folks

September 2, 2009 by  
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So last night I’m flipping the channels when I come across a promo for America’s Got Talent featuring Grandma Lee.  That caught my attention.  What’s the story with this older woman and what is she doing on the show?  I decided to watch.

After an hour of show it is Grandma Lee’s time but before she comes on, production does a five minute bit of her.  The usual stuff: who she is, where she comes from, her dreams and expectations.  I was blown away. 

On the stage of one of the most popular shows in America stood a seventy five year old grandmother of ten who said these words: “Most people my age consider their best years behind.  I consider my best years ahead.”

My mother in law, Kathleen Hughes, is eighty years old and was a very successful B-movie actress.  She was gorgeous.  She was in “It Came From Outer Space” and “The Glass Web” with Edward G. Robinson and John Forsythe among other films.  You can check her credits and pictures at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045825/

Her husband, Stanley Rubin, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0748166/, ninety two years of age and a writer/producer was the first producer to receive an Emmy.  He also worked with Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty to name a few.

I’m not listing my in-laws credits just to drop names.  The reason is that they continue to be productive and inspired by life.  When I want to make plans with them, they need to check their calendar to see if they are available.  I don’t know if they would say their best years are ahead.  I actually don’t think they would, but I’m sure they would say that life is worth living and even though their age puts physical restrictions on them they continue to be curious and to look forward to each day.  One day I asked Kathy if she longed for the beauty she once had.  She looked at me surprised and said: “Oh, but I’m still beautiful, just in a different way.”

My neighbor Joan – you can check an interview with her on this site under Interviews –  is eighty four years old.  She is a widow and lives with her four cats and every two to three months she travels either to Las Vegas, Hawaii or England where she was born.  Whenever I have a gathering I invite her over.  She dresses up and walks the ten feet that separates our homes carrying her pocket book.  She laughs, talks and keeps up with everybody else.

I think part of Grandma Lee’s popularity is the fact that we, younger generations, have so little experience with older people beyond our immediate family that when we come in contact with someone like her, we are in awe.  It’s a pity that we grow older without having much knowledge of what lays ahead or having the opportunity to learn from others that have more experience. 

I don’t know Grandma Lee but I feel confident to say that she has had many dreams come true in her life and while some have not, she has not given up yet. 

So no matter what happens in this show, she has already succeeded.  She has received standing ovations for her performances and has been watched and inspired millions of people.

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