Friday, October 14, 2011

This May Be Me Someday...

Uh oh...some parts here may be me already...

There are some older women in my life I continuously learn a great deal from. Some are relatives, some are friends. Regardless of our relationship, they are a constant reminder of how we are called to be Christ for one another. At least this is what I tell myself during periods of wanting to beat my head excessively against the wall requiring a bit more patience than usual while simultaneously gleaning life lessons from all of them.

One such woman is related to me. I won't reveal her identity; let's just say it sounds a lot like other-in-slaw. It is a constant surprise to me how I can feel great love and respect for someone while wanting to throw up my hands in utter annoyance. Somewhere it must be written in the "I Am Now Over 80 So I Can Say Whatever The Hell I Want And You Will Deal With It Because I Am Over 80" book that age brings entitlement to blurt out the most ridiculous things imaginable. This book must give carte blanche to argue for no other reason than a desire to do so, not to mention the entire chapter on how they're always right...despite blatant proof otherwise. I love her dearly, but my stars... I don't remember seeing this on The Golden Girls. While I have never had a problem advocating my opinion, I have learned sometimes the best thing is to remain silent and/or walk away. This is not submission, but rather a declaration of strength.

Another woman is a dear friend. What is sobering to me is how despite being 87 years old (yup, that's right, 87 years old) she is up and out the door every morning ready to take on a new day. She has witnessed constant changes in her environment, tries to make her way around a computer, and insists on remaining independent. She has taught me to not only never stop learning, but to realize when it is time to move on to bigger and better things. It is okay to finally admit we don't understand what is happening around us. To do so is never a weakness, but yet another tremendous act of strength.

Our adorable aunt (also in her eighties) is one of the coolest women I know. She is hip, raised a beautiful family with our Uncle who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, and enjoys a good laugh. What I love about her is she calls it the way she sees it yet is not afraid to laugh at herself. I look forward to spending a week with her in Florida every year and one of these times I am going to tuck her into my suitcase and bring her home with me. She reminds me while it is great to have an opinion, it is even better to laugh at oneself.

Lastly is my adorable Granny. Believe it or not she is shorter than me, which is such a boost to my self-esteem that I am taller than somebody in the family. I got my blue eyes from Granny and she is quite the stitch. She is as big a Godfather movie fan as I am, enjoys a good glass of wine, and loves her family dearly ~ nothing in life is more important to her than us. Granny is stronger than she realizes. Within the span of a few years we lost both my grandfather (her husband) and my uncle/Godfather (her second oldest son.) No one should ever have to bury their child. Yet she is our biggest cheerleader, still comes out for all the birthdays, and has a belly laugh that cracks me up. She is the ONLY person in the world who could EVER get away with calling me Bethy-poo (that stays between us, eh?) and without doubt all my best childhood holiday memories involve times spent with my siblings and cousins at her home (where I now live.) 

In my love of all things French, I admire their respect for the elderly. Honored for their life experiences, senior citizens are revered for their knowledge and looked upon as the family authorities. I am not so sure we Americans do as well a job at this. Tonight I had a frank discussion with my friend I mentioned earlier. She admitted how it is frustrating to see so many things change around you; new people coming and going and trying to keep them all straight; learning how something works just to have a "new and improved" version come along to learn all over again.

Tonight I set aside frustration with realization is a little scary witnessing once strong, vibrant women losing the battle as age take over, creeping over their once healthy bodies, stealing their memories and eroding their strength. This sudden awareness was God shoving nudging me. These women deserve to be honored. These women have earned reverance. With His grace, this may be me someday. I need to be as patient and kind and good-humored and friendly as I hope someone to be with me when that day comes.

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