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Cheryl Bills - Split Bio Cheryl's Corner Letters from Readers Aging with Grace
Cheryl    Reich Bills

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Aging with Grace

Aug 23rd, 2017

By Cheryl Reich/Bills

BSSW, MSC


Yesterday a teenager asked me how I felt about being old. I was shocked! My first impulse was to tell the “punk” that I was ten years younger than I am, but second thought was that was being immature. Upon seeing my dismay, he became embarrassed and added insult to injury by saying, “I don’t really need to know how old you are, but I heard friends saying you were over the hill. I just wondered what that meant.”


My first thought was ‘what hill? I didn’t see any hill!’ I decided that he needed one more lesson before I dismissed him for the day. I politely explained to him that is was not really proper to ask older people how old they were – especially ladies. He shook his head okay, and asked to be excused.


Later that day I began to ponder being older in this youth obsessed world. I never felt old until this last decade – which will remain a secret to most! Later, remembering how much wisdom I have gained from my “older and wiser” friends and family, I decided that old age is a gift. I have lost so many loved ones at too early of an age; from them I learned to treat each day as a precious gift from God.I would never trade any part of my life for being younger – for in aging I have become more of the person God intended me to be. As I have aged, I have become kinder to myself. I very seldom disagree with that kinder person I have become.


Now on the other hand, I would trade this aging body. I despair daily over wrinkles, the thigh issues and veins that refuse to stay where they should be! Avoiding full length mirrors in stores has helped me deter many purchases! Also, I don’t scold myself for that ice cream cone once a week– instead I savor each bite while recalling those I had with a loving father and grandpa.


Since I have seen many young loved ones leave this world too soon, I have a greater appreciation of growing old. I have decided that I will age gracefully – by the grace of God! In the time I have left, I WILL dance to old rock and roll songs; I will weep as long as I need to over lost ones. I will walk on the beach diving into the waves with abandon, swimming as far out as I can, remembering to save enough energy to get back to shore!


Whose business is it anyway if I chose to read to 2 a.m. and sleep late? Like all the rebels in my life, I think the world would be better without clocks! Most cultures are not as obsessive regarding time and schedules as this one. I believe those are the same ones that have less stress related medical conditions and longer longevity! Correlation?


I accept that I am more forgetful, but half of what I forget is best forgotten anyway. I eventually remember the important things. Besides the older I get the less “stuff” I need cluttering up my brain! If important, I write it down and hope that I will remember where it is. Really important things I file in my heart. It is amazing what a wonderful memory that organ has!


Over the years, my heart has been broken – and whose hasn’t? Whether it be loss of a loved one, loss of love or that of a beloved pet, these losses often give us a new strength. It has taken me many years to accept that losses have taught me more than all the textbooks I have read. Having degrees do not help you handle life’s lessons much better.


Book smarts do not heal broken hearts…


Just a few things I have learned in my “older” years are: 1) it’s okay to be wrong sometimes; I don’t need to know ALL the answers, 2) It is easier to be positive: avoid negative people, and 3) not all people are going to like me and that’s okay too! I wish insecure teenagers could accept this latter truth.


So to answer that question: No, I’m not old – only older. I will keep my child’s curiosity and the right to play. I will not waste time lamenting what I “should” have done. I will do what I am blessed to do. I will not worry about what will be.


I know that God is in control – and I am not! I have asked Him to help me age gracefully.