When It’s Your Turn: A Tribute to Aging

We all think growing old is this exercise in grandiosity. But the reality is that one day you aren’t “old”, and the next day you are.
One day, you’re 10-years old, running on strong legs through a field, holding your sister’s hands, and the next you’re 83, with arthritis, burying her.
One day, you’re 16-years old, falling in love for the first time, and the next you’re a widow at 80.
One day, you’re laying your head in your mother’s lap, and the next your great-grandchild is being born.

I know what I see what I look at her. I see a life that’s already been lived. I see age spots and wrinkles and streaks of grey. I see the sunset of life. I see the age but the not the years that brought it.
But who does she see looking out of the mirror? The 88-year old great-grandmother; or the 17-year old on her way out the door to greet life? Does she see the sun rising?

She was born in 1927. Two years before Black Friday. She’s lived through a Great Depression, a World War (II), Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Korea, and 14 presidents. She’s lost a son and a husband and she’s found a lot of things in between. She has lived through trials and rejoiced in triumphs.

At 88 she’s no longer painting houses or sewing past midnight. She shuffles instead of running. Her medicine prevents her from driving, and her independence is waning. She needs help. And I feel woefully inadequate and unprepared.

Her hands seemed to always move so swiftly. Knowing innately what to do and how to care for me. Anticipating my needs and wants before I knew them.
My hands seem clumsy as I help her move the button through the hole.

The way she used to pull the cover up around me when she thought I was asleep.
I did that today, and my hands lingered. Realizing the way the roles had reversed.

I heard her rustling around in the kitchen and yelled “Don’t forget your blood pressure medicine,” the same way she used to remind me “Wash your hands before you come to the table,” or “Brush your teeth after that ice cream.”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven. A season to be young and a season to age. A season to be cared for, and a season to do the caring.
I have come to understand that the wrinkles and age we fight against so fiercely are gifts. And they fill my heart.

Lord, grant me patience for the privilege of doing the caring. Because life is a cycle and everyone’s season will come.
Help me be patient.
Help me be willing.
Help me be present.
Help me be thankful.

It Is Time
She is pancake mix and chocolate chip cookies and pink lemonade.
She is butter cups and knockout roses and yard sales on Saturday mornings.
She is evening walks and holding hands.
She is the nighttime reader who always said yes to “just one more.”
She’s seen the worst the world can offer, and remained good.

She’s the gift to my childhood–flesh of her flesh.

I knew this was coming.
I thought I was ready.
But I am the little girl again, not wanting to go home.
Please, please let me stay!
Please, please let her stay.

She will go one day.
“It is time.”
And I will be different.
How very much I love her.
How blessed to have her in my world.
How blessed to have lived in her’s.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

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