These days, I
- ask my husband to call my phone to find my phone.
- read 30 pages of a book before I discover that I have already read it.
- leave the trunk of the car wide open and begin to drive away after I unload my garbage into the apartment complex dumpsters.
- Put my phone, keys, glasses, watch, and water bottle on the kitchen counter at night so I don’t forget to take any of them in the morning.
- put the big kettle of homemade soup on a burner . . . . and turn on the wrong burner. The result when I take the cover off to stir the delicious soup: cold raw vegetable soup.
- am so familiar with the Colgate brand (Red, white and blue tubes) that I brushed my teeth with Cortizone 10 (Yuck!)
My life as a 76-year old is one minor, sometimes hilarious, humiliation after another. But I am finding ways to cope:
- don’t try to multi-task.
- do make multiple, exacting lists.
- do have a routine for everything.
- do let go of your pride and your vision/illusion of being perfect at anything.
“We grow old and die in the same way we’ve lived our lives. That’s why this book is not about growing old gracefully. My life has been graced, but it certainly hasn’t been graceful – I’ve done more than my share of falling down, getting up, and falling down again.
My life has not been graceful either! I have, however, worked hard to understand my falling downs, to appreciate my getting ups, and to forgive my falling downs again – even if they are the same fallings as before. These blessings bring me peace and comfort as I stand “on the brink” of the rest of my life and my physical death.
I have made peace with my personality instead of trying to become Cinderella. Now I have the emotional time and space to enjoy who I am, how I think, and how I live. In A Year with Thomas Merton, Merton advises that we can “make our lives what [we] want” if [we] don’t “drive [ourselves] on with illusionary demands.” To which Palmer replies,
“I don’t think it is entirely true that I can make my life what I want. But it would help if I stopped making demands on myself that distort who I really am and what I’m really called to do.”
Amen! Mr. Palmer.
The biggest change that I see as I age, I think, is my ability and willingness to accept the unknown, to pay homage to the questions, big and small, that life still throws my way, instead of celebrating the certainty of the answers. I now enjoy the bigness of the universe, both physical and intellectual. I can relax into my doubts or unknowns instead of feeling anxious, or worse, shameful. I love becoming much more than having arrived. I am quite sure that this is the appropriate view of life to carry with me through the experience of death and into the eternal kingdom of God, where becoming who I was created to be will no longer be an issue.