Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Old Age Has Finally Caught Me

Somewhere between our recent move, the updating of both our new and old homes and all the activities of the holidays something has changed inside me. I feel as if I have in some way been diminished, that I am in some way less of myself than I was. The person who is the core of me; is no longer the twenty-something girl I have always seen myself as. Until recently that girl was the person who looked back at me in my mirror. Now suddenly, the face staring back at me is that of an aunt, as I remember her when she was the age I am now.

I’m sure that stress and exhaustion could have been the catalyst. Perhaps it was just the taxing job of downsizing a lifetime of possessions and the memories associated with them. But, something tells me it is more.
I have always been a list maker. Since my teen years I have kept dozens of dime store journals hidden away, to keep my friends and family from giving me the business about my lists. So this time between listing all the reasons I should be thankful and the New Year’s resolutions has always been a tough time of year for me.

Many of the emotional and life changing events in my life have happened during those few weeks between Thanksgiving and the new year. More dates than I care to think about bring up memories of loved ones lost, hopes dashed or dreams left unfulfilled. If I am not careful, I can easily end up in that group of folks that suffer from Holiday depression.

This year it seems I am continually being bombarded by reminders of just how much the world has changed in my lifetime; not all for the better either. Perhaps, it is just the reaction to my body letting me know that I am now part of that group referred to as “Old.”

Regardless of the reasons, it has certainly put me in a melancholy state of mind. The old gray matter hiding under all this white hair is full of “coulda, woulda or shoulda,” and “if only” thoughts. It has also been wreaking havoc with my desire to spend time with both my camera and my computer.

As a result, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to grow old and the changes it makes in your life. The Old Salt likes to offer to trade places with young folks that express an interest in having something of his. One conversation recently with a thirty-ish family member regarding our recent “Last Hurrah” trip went something like this.

Family member: “It must be nice to be retired and have the free time and money to take such a trip.”

Old Salt: “ I will be happy to trade you all three of my pension checks each month with one condition.”

Family Member: “what condition?”

Old Salt: “I get to be your age again and you get to be mine.”

Well, you will never hear me make that offer. There is no way I would ever want to trade places with someone younger in this place and time. Sure, I would like to go back and relive my life if I could do it with my current hindsight left in place. Who wouldn’t want the chance to fix some of the huge mistakes made in their life? But, to start living my life over again (at any younger age) in this time period, No Way.

The only good thing I can see about growing up in today’s world is today’s children are blind to all the good things they will never have that those born before --- say 1960 (just to pick a year at random) had. I find it easy to feel sorry for today’s children. They will never know so many of the freedoms and privileges that children of my era had but especially those of my parents and grandparents time period.

I wish I could give children back their freedom from fear. The fear of strangers, fear of adults, fear of abduction, fear of terrorist, fear of failure and so many other modern day things. I wish that today’s children could know the freedom of being sent out to play in the morning and not having to be home until dinnertime. The freedom of wandering anywhere their legs or bicycle could take them. The freedom to go explore all the adventures that imagination and an afternoon with friends could take you. Be it swimming in the creek or building a fort from castoffs near the junkyard. I wish for today’s children to live in a time when most people weren’t overweight because life naturally required more physical activity and diets contained more healthy foods and less high fat, empty calorie junk. I want to give children back the ability to do their math without the help of a calculator. I want to see families meeting at the dinner table each night having lengthy discussions about what transpired in their day and not spending their time eating on the run as they move from one organized sports program or dance class to another.

Heck, when I start thinking along those lines I can list lots of reasons to be grateful that I have reached my old age. Nope, I would not trade places for anything. But, I do wish that my old achy joints would take a lesson from my wrinkles. At least they don’t hurt.

As I went to hit the publish button it suddenly occurred to me that I have written on this subject before and I had to go in search of the post. It can be found here if you’re interested.


  1. Rita, I can relate to a bit of this but still offer no real solution. At the end of each year, I find myself that much more miserable( until I do the mind cleansing thing ). Or maybe it's because I was prepared for all the obstacles in life, at an early age. Too many "shoulda, woulda, couldas" but I tend not to dwell on them. That alone helps to rid part of the stress. And when you can do that, you feel a bit better, perhaps.

  2. Rita, what is all this about “coulda, woulda or shoulda,” You are writing for people who know you because of what you do, not what you might have done. Not many of your readers would want to trade you in for any other version of the bloggerw e know.

  3. OMG, Rita ... have you been lurking inside my head?
    These thoughts, so eloquently expressed, are what I've been feeling but never expressed. ... I find myself reading your words with tears in my eyes, saying, "Yes, someone else understands!".
    Happy to read you again - happy new year ... chin up, shall we?!



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