When Aging Came To Visit

Not much snow, but frozen solid!

Not much snow, but frozen solid!

It seems that 2016 was the year that the word AGING, started being used in conversation frequently around  my house, and as a result became a permanent resident. The twenty-five year old I still thought I was began to slow down. I noticed my body got stiffer and tired more quickly. I began rebelling against those things that I was supposed to accomplish on any given day. What took me fifteen minutes to do a few years ago took up to thirty, if not more precious minutes.

It was Bill who started it. At seventy-seven, he had knee replacement surgery early last January. My own right knee started hurting right after his surgery. I chalked it up to sympathy pains. I kept up my walking routine most days and continued with my pilates and yoga sessions. The main problem was when I was seated in the lotus position and ole Righty just didn’t want to stay bent up like a pretzel. I allowed myself straighten her out from time to time to ease the pain, but she still doesn’t like to do that. Now I’m noticing that when it’s very cold, like it was this past weekend (in the single digits),  the knee got very stiff and uncomfortable. Geez, Bill, why can’t you just keep your pain to yourself?

In early August when my sweetheart, Bill, was scheduled for shoulder replacement surgery in mid-September, my neck got stiff and both of my shoulders began to ache. More sympathy pains? Was it my rotator cuffs? Or was it those weighty burdens I carry around with me all day? Maybe it was the work of getting my memoir published, trying to stay caught up with blog posts, newsletters, check books, laundry, cooking, and the other chaotic day to day things I didn’t have any desire to do, or enough hours in the day in which to do them.

While Bill’s surgeries are healing beautifully, something is still amiss. It’s the brain. I discovered in November that I was a year ahead of myself. I kept telling people I’d be seventy-five on my birthday when I was only going to be seventy-four. Hooray! I gained a year! Things can’t be going south yet, can they? But then words became a big problem. I knew which word I wanted to use in a blog post or a crossword puzzle but I just couldn’t find it.

The urge to nap became a frequent visitor and is also now in residence. I need at least thirty minutes to close my eyes and drift off into a dreamy, relaxed state. I also find myself ready for bed at nine most evenings. My early morning walks out in the cold and windy mornings don’t carry the thrill they used to. I’m now waiting till it gets a bit warmer.

What is happening to me?  I think of  my cross-country skiing days in northern Vermont, when I couldn’t wait to get out into the frigid air and be the first creature making tracks in the deep snow.

Bill is falling into step with me.  When I asked if he wanted to go out to dinner and a movie the other afternoon, he said, “It’s too cold! Too windy!”  When I asked what’s gotten into him, he says, “I’m seventy-seven. I’m old!”  If he is old, so am I, right?

Sunday morning after it warmed up a bit, I took a quick twenty minute walk to check out the condition of the streets as we’d had an inch or so of snow the day before. It was nothing compared to the winter storms we’d experienced up north.  Most churches were closed for the day, and few cars passed down our street. I needed a few groceries. It was cold. It was windy. The street was very icy. And no neighbors were out … even the the young families who’ve recently moved here with their kids. Where were the sleds and the snowmen? Where was the laughter and the fun?

I wore a wool hat, gloves, boots, and my down coat. I felt quite comfortable, but by the time I got back home I decided I didn’t need those groceries after all. I decided to cuddle up in a wool blanket, next to our old-fashioned radiators, and read. If the youngsters in the neighborhood don’t go out in the cold, maybe it isn’t old age after all! Maybe I’m just getting smarter.

Here is a very moving meditation on aging by Parker Palmer.  He has such a wonderful way of expressing what growing older is all about.  He’s inspired me to just go with it and enjoy.

Unscrooging Myself!


Winter is here and light from the sun will be begin to increase every day now until June 21st, when the days will start to grow shorter once again. But you’d never know it from the temperatures we’ve been experiencing.  A week or so ago we broke records here in Virginia with temperatures in the mid 70s.  It will happen again on Christmas Eve when it’s supposed to rain and temperatures will be unseasonably warm. In between, the record highs we have had fairly warm days with only a few in the lower 40s with even colder frosty nights.

DSC00575.JPGWhile in other portions of our country people are experiencing intense rain, early snowfalls and freezing temperatures, everyone I meet here in Central Virginia, is talking about this “Crazy Weather.”  A few weeks ago most comments were, “I love it. I’ll take all I can get.”  This week with Christmas upon us, people are beginning to complain.  “It’s not Christmas if it isn’t cold.”  Or, ” I’d love a little snow for the holidays. Is that asking too much?”

If that’s not enough there’s the way the world is looking right now. Politics in this country stink, while wars, mass shootings, and terrorism are claiming lives. The darkness seems tenfold more than it usually does.

The Knock-Out Roses in my garden were continuing to bloom until just a few nights ago when temperatures dropped into the 20s.  Last week on one of my walks I noticed forsythia blooming.  In Washington, DC, just a few hours north of us, the cherry blossoms have been blooming. Usually our lawn gets a year end mowing in early to mid-November, but last week the gang was back giving our very green grass another trim.

I’m just as confused as the trees and plants. In the fall I always welcome the beginning of the dark months. For me theyDSC00497.JPG represent a time of slowing down. I go to bed earlier and rise with the sun, as it peeks out over the horizon. And while I’ve been noticing all kinds of weeds growing in my garden during the last week or so and have wanted to go out and pull them, my body is fighting for what it wants more of … REST. My desire for naps has increased as it usually does at this time of year, along with a lapse in energy. While part of me wants to go out and clean up the garden, or walk without having to wear a heavy coat, my body is resisting.

This could all have something to do with aging, I suppose. But I have a feeling that most of what is bothering me is due to human nature and my not being happy with what is. I complain if it’s too cold, too hot, too dry, too wet, or whatever else I’m not happy with. And knowing I’ll never be able to control things like the weather, I’m working on just giving in and letting it all be. There isn’t much I can control, but perhaps I can try to change the way I react to the way things are. So I’m going back to an old prayer I often use when I find my world lacking in what I want or expect:

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

May the spirit of Christmas shine upon you and yours.
And may all of your wishes come true.
Just remember
if things don’t work out as you want them to,
there are flowers blooming and butterflies flitting about somewhere
on this beautiful blue planet of ours, and the weather is perfect!