I realize I have entered this area before, all the aches and pains that begin to surface, pretty much as you near the 40 year bracket. Then they start to rapidly increase, snowballing each decade, no each minute after that.
I have spent more than one conversation with my school chums, crying about my ouches, and hearing about theirs, this is one thing you do not try and one up a person on. HOLA...I am very happy that my body has not screamed quite as loudly at me, as those of some friends, and I don't ever want it to!
Oh, grey hair, well, if it really offends a "mature" person, it is easily taken care of. The wrinkles, well....I hear Botox can fix that, if it really becomes too big of a burden to carry, and you have the extra cash lying about, and no fear of having your face frozen(like your Mother used to warn you about).
That is all stuff you are aware that will arrive as you settle into the 1/2 decade mark. The stuff that they have neglected to warn you about, is far worse than those pains that make you go "Ow". I am going to go into the absolute worse part about growing older, the real agony, beyond that of sore body parts.
The most difficult part of being a middle aged person, and at 56, I consider myself the "new" middle age, is the loss. Not the loss of movement, the loss of bladder control, the loss of muscle, the loss of hair, but the loss of people.
I became an "orphan" years after I became a Grandmother. Strange, but I assume it certainly did not affect me, like it would a child, but, it did indeed affect me. The day I lost my last parent, was the day I became a Grown up. I realized that I was the oldest now, I may have been the oldest sibling, but on that day, I no longer had someone who was more adult than myself in my family. I actually felt that weight. I was now the oldest parent in my own family. I was now the one who would be expected to hold the most advice, the most experience, I would be the one who was suppose to have answers, and I had no one else to go to.
Now, don't think, growing up, I did not see the loss of people, I lost friends, and I lost family. I can remember how I felt with each one of them. I did my share of crying, and asking "why". But, my own personal circle was safe and secure, until I turned 26. That was when I lost my Mother, and I have written about this often. It was a terrible blow. I was the only one of my friends who no longer had a Mom. I was jealous of all the others, I felt all alone, and I hated it when my friends would speak about things their Mom's did, or how their Mom would watch their kids, and how they were going to visit their Mom. That just never seemed fair to me.
But, suddenly it seemed my friends were losing their Mothers and Fathers. What the heck was happening? It wasn't right, we were far too young to lose parents, mine was just a horrible mistake, why are all these other parents passing away? See...getting old is a very subtle process. You become a mother yourself, but, you keep thinking you will always be the second generation mother. Your Mom will be the Grandmother, and you will simply remain a Mom. Then suddenly your children grow up, and Bam! you are a Grandmother, but, you figure you are far too young to be Grandmother, so somehow, you fall into the false sense that you are unique, you will have that family with Great Grandparents, and Great Great Grandparents, and so on and so on...
Surprise!! Not the way it works. No matter how tight you squeeze your eyes, mortality will begin its slow crawl towards you. If you are "lucky" it doesn't aim directly at you. It appears to start randomly. You say things like "OMG, they were so young" , or "what a shock!" But in time, you realize it is happening too often. Oh, you never get used to it. When friends start to leave, without warning, Cancer, Heart Attacks, it is beyond the accident, it is mortality, giving you the heads up. You are reaching the tree lined path of life.
This path is the one you have been traveling the potholes to get to. It is far less hectic, the traffic has slowed, and is taking time to look at the scenery. You have a feeling of contentment, no urge to accumulate unnecessary things, you have arrived at the greatest place you could imagine. You have raised your children, you have kept those golden friends, you have a roof over your head, and food in your stomach. You have memories that can make you smile, when you need one. Oh, you have those other memories that can bring a tear, but even those will make you feel warm. You can stop and take a look around, and if you are like me, you will see that you have survived that highway. You have scars, but you have a great feeling of accomplishment. You may not have won awards, or become incredibly wealthy, or saved a life, or invented the wheel, but, you did something, and that was to put your mark on someone else. Seldom does a human being live, without touching another.
I HATE getting old. I HATE being a Grown up. I do, at times, wonder how soon it will be my turn to be the one that others say "what a shock". I try very hard not to dwell on that, but each time I hear of one who has touched my life, passing, it makes me think. I don't want to make others cry, I don't want to leave those who mourn. I don't want to think that I will someday be to blame for heartache.But when I look at the scenery all my tree-lined path, I know that one day, I will be the cause of grief.
. I had a friend ask what I thought our lives meant, who we are. Well, I guess we are the Grown ups, we are those who have reached the pathway. The place we can stop and look behind us, and see all those we touched, and those who we left a mark on. That friend, like me, has been very lucky, they have touched others and will never be forgotten. They have left memories, with friends and family, just like all those they have loved, and lost. Do we ask what our lost loved ones lives meant? Do we ask who they were? No, we realize they were gifts to us, they touched us, and left their marks, and those gifts will remain with us, until we reach the end of the path.
Rest in Peace, Jack