I'm old. I declare that with a certain type of pride. After all, the doctors told my parents that two years would be the quantity of my life. Breast cancer, many car accidents (there was that naughty deer standing in the middle of the road on a curve) later and I'M STILL HERE!
I know exactly the moment when it became apparent that I was sliding down the slippery slope of middle age to old. I was listening to music on the radio. They announced that they were going to play some "retro" types of music. Then they played the music of my youth. "Retro music" indeed!
I can quantify my years easily by the days, weeks, months, and years that I have lived. They have piled up around me. Sometimes it feels as though I have to knock some of them back, climb out of those large stacks to move forward. I look in the mirror and it seems as though daily there are new lines and creases. My hair is not really auburn. Gun metal gray would describe it's actual tone more realistically. Thank goodness for Loreal warm auburn dye!
When I was a wee lass, not old yet, not old at all, my beloved Grandma came to the dinner table. (The only time I beat her there). She had a look of surprise on her beloved face. She turned to me and said, "I just had the oddest experience." I responded, "What was that Grandma?" "I just looked in the mirror and an old lady looked back at me."
I remember thinking, "Well, of course Grandma because you're really, really old!" Ah the innocence of youth. Somehow I did not understand that the spirit within her all too mortal body was still young, still 21 and knowing that all of life, not just a small parcel, was ahead of her. Now I understand with full force.
Is it BAD to be old? All of these 58 years that I've lived I've heard the quote, "Beats the alternative." Oh I hear protests from friends about the new aches, pains, and surgeries that they face. Yet I feel great joy in the knowledge that I did NOT die at two years of age. To me each year, whether good or less than good, is an award that says, "Congratulations, you've made it one more year!"
"Women never have to tell their age." This quote has been a frequent statement in my life. Ask me. Ask me how old I am. I am NOT 29 or 39...no soon, I will be 59! I'm ever so excited! What an amazing thing to be this age.
Perspective is a wonderful thing. I have lived through so many difficulties. The lesson I have learned is that good and bad pass through us in this life. The secret when facing very, very hard is what I have just mentioned. Let it pass through us! Don't lodge the hard, bad, and ugly in any corner or crevice of your heart and soul. Each and every night release all the bad. Let it slide away, far far away. I visualize a giant sink with an enormous drain. I pile all the sorrows that try to own me in that giant sink and watch them slide into that enormous drain, and down, down, down away from me.
Does it always work? I am not quite perfect yet...not even close. Yet in sliding those nagging troubles away and down that drain I give myself the gift of renewal. This morning is BRAND NEW! It is completely unscored by all that has passed.
Learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future. These are the words that inspire me...inspire me to count each and every day as a win! I'm still here.
I wish to end with a story that happened to me. When I was battling breast cancer at the ripe old age of 34 I went to the radiation clinic one bleak seeming day. My attitude was lower than the roots of an old tree. Fear pervaded my soul. I was ever so frightened that I would not live to see our beautiful daughters grow. There was also the fear that I would have to leave my sweetheart far earlier than I wanted.
Sitting in the waiting room was a very old man. It was quite obvious from his emaciated, battle scarred body that he was terminal. He gave me an enormous smile. Then he said words that have echoed through my soul since that time. "Remember, every day above ground is a good one!"
Here I sit all these years later still "Above ground." I witnessed the beauty of my daughters growing, and becoming the amazing women they are. My sweetheart and I spent another 18 years of joy together. I'm surrounded by windows filled with the loveliness of spring. My brand new day lies before me with countless possibilities. I'm still "above ground," not only in a physical way, today my attitude, my spirits are also high and far "above ground."