Aging Gratefully…After Gracefully Passes You By

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Dear Reader:

Looking in the mirror these days takes an act of courage….especially first thing in the morning with no make-up, runny eyes and nose. I wipe, honk, and blink a few times to confirm this is still me staring back.

The mental image of me (that stopped somewhere in the forties, I suspect) still wants to come out to play. To the tune of “Buffalo Girls” I hear the little sing-song each morning…“Becky girl…won’t you come out to play, come out to play, come out to play….Becky girl…won’t you come out to play and dance by the light of the moon.”

Since I don’t have to look at myself continuously throughout the day (Thank God! …literally) I can live in my fantasy world where I still appear “Upper Middle Age Mediocre” in my personal (imagined) visual time-line. This illusion keeps me going along quite merrily until a store mirror or a comment from the grocery bag boy shatters this carefully constructed facade. The illusion is quite fragile.

Perhaps I could take the easy way out and blame it on the new chemo regiment that does tend to dry one out faster-than  the mummification of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. But truthfully it is just one factor in the big picture…”Girl…you ‘gittin’ old…er fast!”

No matter how hard I try to convince myself that I can still do just about everything I have always been able to do…something comes along to dash that fantasy. Case-in-point.

John and Mandy just bought a new car….I never know the names of cars but I know it is a beautiful silver Honda with three rows of seats… which is wonderful for long drives and more people, especially since one row is always taken up with little car seats.

Last Thursday evening, when I spent the night, we decided to grab some food out…East Bay Deli... I was excited…I was going to get to ride in the new car with the new car smell! I was, also, eager to try out the third row of seats behind my precious grandchildren. So before they got in…John pushed their seats up and over to make room for me. I was on the other side of the car.

I placed one foot up on the dashboard…and then suddenly realized that I didn’t have the “umpth” to pull the rest of me up and in. My mind said “Yes!” but my body yelled “No!” I tried grabbing the back of the second row seat but I just didn’t have the power to pull myself into the back… for one second I dangled between in and back out before gravity did its thing. Thank goodness I managed to get both feet planted back on the driveway in the nick of time and didn’t go sailing backwards on my back.

It scared John and he immediately told me to sit up front with him and Mandy was relegated to the back row. I was as shocked as everyone else that I couldn’t get in….I kept thinking if I just had a little foot stool I could do it with no problem….but the step up distance was just higher than my arms could lift and pull me in.

I, suddenly, felt decrepit! All my prior “misconceptions” that I could hang with the ‘best of em’ came crashing down… like my backside. I think I am going to buy a car foot stool, like Cinderella and her carriage, to carry with me to John and Mandy’s so I will be ready next time we all go out.

5275*Actually I found one….for ten dollars on amazon.com (portable)….now I am ready for my next attempt!

Of course if I lived in another time period in Charleston, I would be able to hop in a carriage (from an historic foot step permanently added to the sidewalk in front of historic district homes) that helped ladies, of that time period, enter the carriages with ease. Today these original carriage foot step-ups are a part of Charleston’s history and preserved as authentic artifacts.

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…Which brings us full circle back to the effects of aging on the psyche. Getting old(er) is very humbling…I am sure there is a lesson in all of it that God is sending. Some lessons are easier to swallow than others.

My ophthalmologist casually mentioned when I went back for my last cataract lens check-up or check-off (don’t have another appointment for a year) that she could fix my drooping eyelids that would add even better peripheral vision to my new “eyes” since finishing the cataract surgeries. Just call and make the appointment if I decided to do it…insurance would cover it.

So now every time I look in the mirror…all I can see is my drooping eyelids…but with “little c” re-activating I think that decision can be put on the back burner until (hopefully) “little c” starts behaving again and goes back into hibernation.

I agree with Christine Carter who wrote an article for Huffington Post on grateful aging. Here is an excerpt.

I don’t see my crow’s feet. I see the miracle of my vision.

I don’t see those laugh lines and wrinkles. I hear the laughter.

I don’t see these flabby arms. I feel the warm embraces lingering.

I don’t see the cellulite. I remember where these legs have taken me.

I don’t begrudge the belly pouch. I cherish the vessel that gave me my babies…who have now grown and brought me more joy with grand babies. 

I just want to celebrate the “undeniable blessing of being alive for all the years I have (to date) been given.

So until tomorrow…Recognizing the miraculous gift of life we have been given forces us to understand that we can choose “living deeply and deeply living” our life. No regrets….just gratitude for the gift!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Aging Gratefully…After Gracefully Passes You By

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Boy, could I identify with so many of your feelings in this blog. I am very near-sighted, so when I comb my hair (without my glasses) or fix my face as I stand in front of the mirror, I just keep backing up until I am satisfied that I”m looking pretty good. (Of course, by that time, my vivid imagination kicks in. However, it works for me and helps keep my self esteem up) And that thing about needing a stool to get into some of these new vehicles …been there, done that. (a small step ladder might work better.) Besides that, I’m shrinking (sorry, height only) And now “the chickens are coming home to roost” because I remember how I teased Mother about looking through the steering wheel. Loved Christine Carter’s article as it gives me a new perspective on some of those “age things.” But I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be here this long, so I guess I would say, “I, too, am aging GRATEFULLY.”

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  2. Gin-g Edwards says:

    Becky…Sonja had a stepping stool for years bc she was so short. Yesterday when we were with Donna and Sam I went to get out of the back seat and had a muscle cramp. ..talk about embarrassing. ..turns out Sam has them too. So don’t feel alone. ..and I am excited to hear that insurance will pay for the eyelids…some good news. ..I thought you looked wonderful when I saw you last….Love you

    Like

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