Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Year(s) (01/20/11)
TITLE: Lessons on aging those in the know
By Judy Lawhon
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Wrong! A better definition might be a group of lively adults who still have quite a bucket list and are doing all they can to stay healthy physically, spiritually and emotionally.
As one of the younger seniors in this community, I learn every day about the best ways to age. My neighbor LeRoy is a classic example that I intend to follow. He is 90. He still bowls, fishes, walks daily, is active in his church and loves to cook steaks on the grill for his many guests. His wife Dee is only 82. She does all the things LeRoy does, plus she quilts. In fact, just two years ago, she thought her church should do something for persons dealing with cancer so she started a cancer care quilt group that has made more than 80 quilts and distributed them throughout the church and city. She’s also a wonderful artist who paints with oils and always has a work in progress.
But, it’s more than what they do--it’s who they are. They are gentle caring folks who are always there for others. They start each day with prayer and devotions and a positive attitude. They laugh often and cry easily. Their personalities are quite different from each other, yet they respect and compliment each other. He is so proud of her paintings and quilts; she is so proud of the big fish he catches.
And in the home behind me is Kathy, a very young senior at only 57. She had a serious illness over 20 years ago and literally step by step brought herself back to good health. Two years ago she threw away her cane. Now she leads the walk aerobics classes each morning. She is always encouraging to people new to exercise and watches to make sure they don’t overdue. Her philosophy is to do what you can; you will get stronger; keep coming back. She always has a hug and smile. She remembers your name and asks about you and your family. She could have quit many years ago, resigned to a wheel chair. But as she ages, she becomes stronger both physically and spiritually. She plays piano for her church. She recently helped her good friend raise funds and prepare for a mission trip.
Of course, not everyone in this community holds such optimism. There are those who seem to find fault with everything. It seems that their faces are in a perpetual frown. They are not always pleasant to be with.
However, I try to always have a smile and kind word for these negative folks. I’ve not been in their shoes; I don’t know what they have experienced. It’s not up to me to judge anyone. Instead I concentrate on me and my attitudes. I try to stay in good health through wise nutrition and exercise. I look at the sunsets and sunrises over the mountains and remember to thank God for all the blessings in this world.
I’m not Pollyanna. I know not everything is wonderful all the time. Sometimes life hands us some things we really don’t want. It’s been that way for me. Several young people in my family were taken from us much too soon. The economy has limited some of those wonderful retirement travels my husband and I had envisioned in our younger days. And on and on. I choose not to dwell on these things. I know they are there, but so are my parents who are 88 and 85. I have the privilege of helping them have a healthy aging as well.
We laugh, we play cards, we walk together, we share stories. They have health issues, but we rarely talk that they don’t comment on how life could be more difficult and they could be so much worse off.
The older I get, the more I learn about living and aging. I’m enjoying the days I have left, be they few or many. My teachers are all around me. They’ve touched me in such awesome ways. I can only hope that when the time comes to join my God, I will leave positive lessons on living and aging to my children and grandchildren. Life will have been a success. Life will have been lived well.
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