Tuesday, November 3, 2015

No One Teaches Us How To ...

So there we were, two ladies of a certain age, sitting on a nice patio having a delectable brunch.  I had the eggs Benedict and she had some kind of fruit compote thingy with fresh crusty bread.

We chatted about this and that, in a desultory sort of way; most of our energy was being directed at the food which was being consumed with a good bit of energy.

After covering the weather, recent political events, mutual acquaintances, kids, grand kids, and the like, she mentioned a recent discovery she had made about her person.

"Marsha", she said a bit plaintively, "I am getting bumps on my fingers."  And with this declaration she held up both hands for my inspection.

I just smiled at her sympathetically and held up both of my own hands for her to see.

"Hon, we all get bumps on our fingers if we live long enough."

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Here is a thought that struck me recently. I recall it distinctly only because I don't get a new thought all that often and it almost made me twinge.

We teach babies to walk and toddlers to how to hold a spoon.  We teach youngsters how to become adolescents and then, a few short years later, try to teach those same teens how to become responsible young adults.

There is a veritable publishing bonanza of material on becoming parents, early career choices, and then dealing with a middle-aged crisis.

And yet, no one teaches us how to grow old.  (Oh, yes, there is the redoubtable AARP, but I don't really find their literature all that helpful.  It is more like pablum for the geriatric set.)

Art Linkletter, of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" fame, once observed that "Growing older isn't for sissies."

In my opinion, old Art knew whereof he spoke.

I am not just referring to well-known challenges like the fact that you cannot see to apply your makeup without your glasses, but you cannot apply your makeup while wearing them either.  That old cabbage has been cooked before.

Therefore, in case no one has mentioned the following to you, and you happen to be interested in the topic, here are a few things to watch out for:

No matter how dexterous, ambi or otherwise, you may have been, there will come a time when your fingers no longer do just what you want them to do.  They may point in directions you had no desire to point toward; and they may, indeed, develop certain anomalies (like my friend's bumps for example) which catch you unawares.

It can be disconcerting.

Upon close examination of your other set of extremities, you may discover that all ten of them are no longer marching in quite the same direction.

That can be confusing.

And do not get me started on finding a comfortable set of shoes that do not look like you need corrective orthopedic surgery.

Furthermore, no one informed me that your feet keep growing,  as long as you live.  For several decades I wore a size 6 1/2 but in recent years realized that, while I might choose to continue to wear that size, I would do so at my own peril.  I relented and went to a size 7.

Few people have anyone in their life brave enough to tell them when it is time to turn in their driver's license.  Certainly no one told my stepfather, until after he rear-ended a stopped vehicle at a rail road crossing; and oh, by the way, it happened to be a local police officer's patrol car.  He was about eighty-six at the time, and had just recently purchased a brand new pickup.  What was he thinking?

Of course, toward the end, he also spent considerable time petting a dog that had died forty years earlier. That is to say, he spent a lot of time stroking thin air, thinking old Fido was still there.

Talk about unnerving!
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So what am I saying?

Just that it comes to all of us, one day at a time, this business of growing older.  For some it sneaks up on them and catches them completely unaware.

Some of us need lessons on how to age with some dignity.  And hopefully with a shred or two of sanity in tact. 

Still, for those who are paying attention, they may learn that despite the bumps and lumps and the odd hair here and there, or no longer any hair at all, there is still joy to be had in a sunrise, or a bird song, or the smile on an old friend's face.

For rest of it, here are two pieces of advice that shouldn't go amiss;
a)   use plenty of lotion on anything and nearly everything, and
b)   for Pete's sake, eat your fruits and vegetables. (But don't put lotion on them.)
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Hope you have not been surprised this week by the face looking at you in the mirror.  Herein ends this lesson - until next time, your older, but still learning, fellow traveler ~ Marsha


  1. Marsha, you are the real deal; I love your writing....I do have fingers that point in different directions that my grandkids think is really odd and don't mind reminding me. I said to my hair dresser just last week that I wish I had a 'thing a ma jig' in my head that would pull the hairs on my chin back up on my head. Remember years ago a toy company came out with a doll that you could change the length of her hair by turning a knob...... that's what I am talking about... I have to tell you though I am kinda enjoying a slower pace in that I am seeing more of God's creation in a different way....more details and listening better to what others are saying....So for all the minuses there are many pluses....

  2. Oh, please let me add a couple items to the lessons on aging?
    c) Thank God every time you wake up to a new day.
    d) people will not always be kind and patient with you, i mean you are old, after all. Be kind and patient anyway.

    Love your words of wisdom, Marsha/

  3. Your wisdom is spot on and a hoot!
    Thank you for the lesson in growing older with dignity and smooth skin.

  4. That's a good bit of wisdom! So far my fingers are pointing in the same direction, but my hands are developing those lovely brown spots!

  5. I had the wind blown out of my sails this week when the doctor read my X-ray results and looked surprised and said you have advanced osteoarthritis with osteophytes (lumps/spurs) that have broken off and are floating about in your elbow joint. No wonder my arm wouldn't straighten and I had pain when lifting stuff. So no lumps on my fingers but lumps on my elbow. Just as well I have two arms but now I have to learn to be left handed. Oh well as long as I keep waking up every morning is the main thing. What about all those age spot that keep multiplying every time you take your clothes off? Its true; growing old is not for sissies, but its better than the alternative.

  6. Love your honest, and funny, look at the foibles of growing older. I have often said that one of the most difficult things is the way my body *betrays* me by acting and looking so different than before. Lumps and bumps especially.

    I guess the challenge is to be grateful for the things that still work, and gracious in accepting the changes. God loves the inner spirit, and that's where I'm trying to look more like Him! Holy Spirit Lotion - works every time!!