Mama is with me for the weekend. From the moment I told her good morning, she was in complaint mode and blame mode and self-pity mode. Ugh. We got through the morning and by afternoon I managed to get a real smile out of her. She helped me pick up sticks and pull weeds and felt useful and that is always a good thing.
I have my mama’s chubby knees. I also have her long torso and small waist and chocolate brown eyes. I could do without the chubby knees. I watch her and wonder what I will be like at her age. I very well may never make it to 89. Yet, I may make it to 99. That is the mystery of life. I hope I never hurt my children. I hope I can still smile. I hope I am able to find something, just one small something good about every day that I still have breath.
There were about 15 seconds in this day that I had the urge to flee. Mama had me in tears with a pounding headache and things at home were, well, they were typical of a holiday weekend at my house. Friends were house boating on the lake for the weekend and all of these things added up to a fleeting thought of (temporarily) running away from home. Thankfully, that was indeed fleeting. I would not do that, for so many reasons. A new one I have added to that list is being 60. Fleeing and losing it and going off to find oneself is something that 60 year-olds do. I will not succumb to that kind of stereotypicality.
I have a friend who loves me like a brother would. It is a real love, an authentic love, a “I will come to your aid at any time of the day or night, rain or shine, sunshine or snow” kind of love. He knows that I (we) are struggling with Mama. Tonight he brought us a large pot of his amazing homemade meatballs and sauce. We had nothing planned for dinner. I made pasta and we dipped this liquid love onto our plates and ate it with gusto. It was so delicious and it was also so deliciously made by a person who only knows how to love with his whole heart and his whole stove. It tasted like heaven. If (and when) I fall behind and feel bleak and hopeless and cannot find brightness anywhere around me, I will think of my friend and know that no matter how ugly I am or feel or behave, he will look at me exactly the same way he always does, with his Father’s eyes.
September came in like a lion, perhaps it will go out as a lamb. I know that is an adage for March but it certainly fit today’s weather. It was blustery and gray with side-ways rain that pelts your face like needles. By 2:00, I needed a cup of coffee. My first choice is always McDonald’s for my brew. Seeing none in sight, I pulled into a Dunkin’ Donuts. Their coffee is good, too. I walked in and met the smile of a 35ish year old guy. I ordered my coffee and he put the price in the register, then gazed up at me and lingered on my face for just a moment. But in that moment he deduced that I was old enough and changed the price in the register to a senior cost. Ouch. I called him out on it. I said “You charged me a senior price, didn’t you?”He smiled sheepishly and said “Naw, I just wanted to give you a good price.” Right. He was very sweet but he surmised that I was indeed a senior. Which I am. Good Lord, how did I get here? How much I would prefer to pay full price for all things.
The last day of August. My birthday month is gone, and that is okay. Celebrating is over. The “Happy Birthday” banner that hangs from my kitchen soffit that I have had up since Noah’s birthday on July 13, will come down tomorrow. It is a new season. I bought a fall burlap banner today that I will attach to the shelf above my fireplace on the first crispy day of the season.
Christopher’s birthday card compelled me, in his own handwriting, to move into this new decade with style and grace. Bless him. He said “Style means having confidence and pride and carrying 60 years proudly, which you already do. You carry incredible wisdom. It illuminates you like a lighthouse on a stormy night. And ‘grace’ for the days when you just don’t feel like having ‘style’.” That made me smile. I will remember those words and try to live that mantra.
Style and grace mean letting go of August and summer and celebration. I will embrace September and move into this new season (literally and figuratively) with all of the ease and breeze that can organically flow.
While awaiting the 11:00 news to come on, I heard this quote at the end of Criminal Minds. I’m not a big watcher of the show but I have seen a few and know that each one ends rather heavily and always with a great quote. I just caught this one: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” – Soren Kierkegaard. Ah…that is the kick in the teeth of life. We must live through the ugliness and pain and mistakes and suffer the consequences in order to truly understand. Therein lies the key to the rest of the quote. We must continue to live forward; somehow learn from the past and push ahead with wisdom and experience. However, though we may not repeat the same incident, there will be ample opportunity to stumble and ache and learn and push forward again.
A more cavalier phrase that we toss around is “Hindsight is 20/20”. I much prefer Kierkegaard’s version. It carries the weight of the world on its words. With aging is supposed to come wisdom. And that windfall, I will wear as a badge.
As I read my morning devotional and then looked up the associated scriptures, I stumbled upon this one: Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” How apropos on the very day I am scheduled to have my hair “conditioned”, as I call it. I may be 60 years old but I’m not sure I am ready for that kind of splendor. I certainly could have a head of gray hair. Mine does not come in in strands, mine comes in as full gray growth at the roots. I may be one of those lucky ones that have beautiful, silvery hair and compliments my dark eyes, kind of Emmy Lou Harris-ish. But…I also could just look old and haggard. It’s a risk, and at this point in my life, I’m erring toward sure things. I’ll take some of those risks when 70 rolls along.
Today is my husband’s birthday. For one week out of the year we are two years apart.That week is over and he is now 63. He always likes that week so that if anyone asks, he can say he is (at that moment) only two years older than me. However, the truth catches all of us.
He had a tough day at work and in reality, a tough evening at home, in spite of us trying to make it feel special. He is under immense pressure at every point; from the patients, the family, the bill collectors. I feel sorry that he is under this pressure but don’t know exactly how to fix it. Noah caught the sense of it all (it wasn’t hard to catch) and began to feel intense guilt and sorrow for being a 30 year old who lives with his parents and is still in school. It was a tough evening but it ended okay. I truly hate conflict but I can see that occasionally allowing pain; allowing our children know the reality of what is, may be beneficial. Why must growth always come from pain? Geez…
Being a certified personal trainer and working in fitness for years, I should know better. However, beginning last spring, April or May, I fell off of the discipline wagon. I believe there were valid reasons for that (at least in my mind). I was working 30-40 hours per week, helping care for my mother and preparing for a wedding in New York and a backyard wedding reception at our house two weeks later. I had gone to the park for walk/runs several times and sneaked in a weight workout once every other week, maybe. But the consistency and seriousness had taken a nosedive. Perhaps subconsciously I had 60 looming ahead and hinted at giving up.
I accomplished a lot today and somehow by mid-afternoon I scraped up the desire to do a weight training workout. It was tough. I then spent seven whole minutes on the elliptical, while awaiting Noah’s return with two pizzas. Yeah, I know. But, it is better than doing nothing and still eating pizza. By bedtime, which is right now, I am feeling encouraged. I am so glad I climbed back onto that wagon, and if the road is not too rocky, I hope to hold on for dear life and do what I know I need to do to feel better; physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.
My first Saturday at being 60; it felt pretty much like the previous Saturday at 59. After all, I am only one week older. However, it is not the one week that changes things. It is the week-after- week-after-week that adds up to 52 and 104 and 156 and 520. That was a big number jump, yet that is exactly how it happens. One week turns into 520,10 years of weeks.
I have (this has been building, not just since 60) become increasingly aware of time and how we use it and lose it. When I was younger, I would occasionally toss around the old adage “I was just killing time” until I read a quote from Henry David Thoreau who said “You cannot kill time without injuring eternity.” I no longer use the afore mentioned adage. If I need to explain something using that concept, I say “I was FILLING time.” I definitely do not want to injure eternity, nor do I want to injure the present. Every moment matters. I am aging no more quickly now than I was 10 years ago. It just somehow seems to matter more. I choose to look at that as a gift of knowledge.
My driver’s license expired on my birthday. Four years ago when I renewed it, I remember thinking “Oh my Lord. The next time I have to renew this, I will be 60 freaking years old.” When something is incomprehensible, a part of you thinks it may never really happen. That can go two ways; something amazing or something you dread. Either way, reality happens and it was happening for me today.
I decided to not go to the license bureau in my own town. There are several reasons for that. One, I did not want to run into anyone I know. Two, the set up of the place provides no privacy where one must sit to have the dreaded photo taken. Three, occasionally my town is just a little too snooty for my liking.
So I headed to a more urban neighborhood BMV about 20 minutes away. It was a bit more gritty, located in an older building that had been chopped up and remodeled many times. Fortuitously, the photo area was tucked away in the back. Perfect. I took my number, 29, and then heard the monotone voice of a skinny 40ish year old announce “Number 14”. Ugh. Okay, I will check messages and read emails and scan Facebook to see how many people “liked” my birthday thank you message. Waiting in the BMV is somewhat like seeing your doctor for an annual check-up; necessary but makes your stomach a bit queasy.
At the announcement of 28, I began to gather my stuff in preparation of the walk to the counter. It was actually quite painless. I had all of the necessary paperwork, passed the eye exam, added five pounds to the statistics (groan) and headed to “the chair”. I smoothed my hair, licked my lips and practiced my best Glamour Shots head tilt. I asked to see the photo. Thankfully, the photographer was a nice young woman who seemed to understand the long-term disadvantage of a bad driver’s license photo. After the fourth try, I told her that one was fine. However, I did ask if there was an extra charge for air-brushing. She smiled, though I am not sure if it was an amused smile or a pity smile. Nevertheless, I walked out with my new driver’s license, a bright green 2018 sticker for my car and a sense of relief that this invasive procedure was behind me for another four years.