Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am not and don't really mind

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know. Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Wooden bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden
Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son,
daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands
trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate
together at the table.
But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and
failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with
the mess. 'We must do something about father,' said the son. 'I've had
enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small tab le in the
corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family
enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food
was served in a wooden bowl!

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction,
sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only
words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a
fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One
evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps
on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?'

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making
a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.'
The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents so that they were
speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though
no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and
gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days
he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither
husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk
spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter
what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be
better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person
by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost
luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that, regardless of your relationship
with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same
thing as making a 'life.' I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with
a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will
elude you. But if you focus on God, your family, your friends, the needs of
others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find

I've learned that whenever I decide something with
an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don' t
have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out
and touch someone.
People love that human touch -- holding hands, a
warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn!

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend