On Growing Old Gratefully

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Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” I don’t think he was looking in the mirror when he said that.

I know that aging is inevitable, but I am still not ready for it. What happened to the petulant teen, the harried mom, the busy career woman. Are they still in there somewhere? Who stole them and put this “senior citizen” in her place?

A while back, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for close to twenty years. I was taken aback by how much older she looked, and was wondering if (gasp) she was thinking the same of me?

It is said that the definition of old is 15 years more than you are now. Let’s see, add 15 years to my life and you get . . .dead.

When I was a teenager, baking in the sun with my baby oil mixed with iodine (who knew of sunscreen back then?) and wearing a bikini one can only wear until she becomes intimate with Sara Lee and Mrs, Fields, my dad warned, “When you are 40 you are going to look like you’re 50”. To which I responded, “Oh, Daddy, old is old. What will it matter?” I’d like to smack that teenager upside the head with one of her Dave Clark Five albums.

But there are definitely perks that come with “a certain age”. I no longer ask, “Does this make me look fat?” First of all, my husband has learned to say, “You look good in anything, dear.” (Did I mention his eyesight is getting worse?)

Second, I no longer care that much. If I like it, I’ll wear it. But not that bikini I talked about earlier. And as far as the laugh lines go, it just proves that I have laughed long and hard in my time. I choose the wrinkles over a somber life.

And if I were not this age, I would not yet be a grandmother to two adorable grandchildren. I would not have all the memories that I have attained, and all the dear friends I have gathered along the way. I would not have had 35 years with my darling spouse, whom I still see as handsome as the day we wed.

So I guess “the golden years” are not so bad, especially if the golden refers to the color of my hair. Not a grey hair to be found. Lady Clairol has become my very best friend.

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Kathy Shepler
I was an English professor at The University of Akron, Ohio before retiring and moving to Charlotte last year. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and my masters in education. Along with writing for The Mint Hill Times, I tutor in English and do book editing. I live in Mint Hill with my husband and am involved in a number community activities.