Happy New Year! May you enjoy the fun that winter can bring, and may it be with good friends and making warm memories with family members ♥. A healthy life should be all about moving toward something positive and very little about moving away from something negative. With that goal in mind, you usually have to discern what your starting point is, so this day is the day I take some time to reflect on where I am in life, and how to move forward with a healthy positive stride. This will include seeing where my faith is centered, too.
As a child, New Year’s Day didn’t really mean so much. I liked the idea of parents going to a party, and my siblings and I having a private one of our own. We used to make party hats and put them on our stuffed animals, having a kind of contest to see who made the best hat. They were each so different, that we simply couldn’t choose one as the best. We were happy that we’d made them and that our parents seemed to like them the next day.
As I became a young adult, it mattered more how I celebrated the day. I didn’t want to be snubbed from any party, and I didn’t want to just stay home and do nothing. It was supposed to be merry and give me and my husband a reason to dress up and act our age with people we enjoyed. Once the children came along, we either had parties for them or with them at church. One particular memory was when we had my sister’s kids as well as our own for the night at home. One game that was my husband’s idea: tossing balls of clean socks into a clean potty chair. The lid acted as a backstop and of course the older kids had the better chances of winning. John (my husband) even tossed socks at the kids to heighten the hilarity. All of the kids had fun, and I’m talking kids from ages 5 to 2 years.
As the children grew up, they went to their own parties, and finally my marriage was over as well. As a single person, the fun was harder to find at church or anywhere else unless you were dating someone. I honestly didn’t have that intention for a long time, and once the intention was there I had no candidates. For most of the last decade, I’ve simply stayed home and talked with people and friends in chat rooms, or just enjoyed the Christmas tree with some wine before praying the year in. It was quiet and gave me some sense of closure for the year that was ending, along with the growing question of: “where has the time gone?”
See, I’m a Senior now and that surprises me in some ways. I’m not surprised by my age at all, and I wouldn’t turn back the clock for one minute! What surprises me is how different being a Senior is, from what I’d ever imagined it would be. How oddly old memories court for attention, and how few options there are for making significant new ones. I somehow thought that I would have more choices than I do, and that saddens me. But on New Year’s Eve, I find myself looking back over the year that went by so quickly – and I count so many more painful losses than I have before. I am realizing that this aging stuff takes a lot more courage than I thought it did. I also thought that my faith would be in a different place, along with more satisfaction with my church relationships.
The hardest realization is that the welcomes are more and more diminished. As I talk with a few of my friends of the same age, I see that they are groping through that realization as well. Where we’d like to go, we’re not usually wanted or welcomed. Some of the places our spirits want to go to, our bodies will fail us – so we can only hope that someone we know will go and we might live it out vicariously if they will only happily share the memory with us. Our church experiences are suffering as well. Fewer and fewer options are available because of our growing list of accommodations that seem to frustrate others in ways we’re trying not to get frustrated about (how’s that for a frustrating circle of woe?)!
I’m not whining here, nor am I damning anyone. I’m just putting my surprise into words. Somehow, I didn’t realize that I may have been just as guilty of letting my elders languish when they might have blossomed with inclusion. I remember trying to include the ones I could relate to (not all people – young or old are compatible to our lives, remember). I remember smiles and kind declines, and decided that it might be that I led a far too boisterous lifestyle for them to enjoy being around (That may still be true, lol). I now see that there were times I might have been more willing to shift things into a mode that would help those elders enjoy the ride a bit more – had I cared a bit more to do it.
I had thought that not having grandchildren might be part of what is missing for me, but my friends with grandchildren say that “fun” part only lasts for a time – then they (the grandkids) are too busy with building their lives to include someone of Senior years. Some friends have had their children or grandchildren move away, and other friends have willingly moved away from their children and grandchildren to avoid contact (I find that the most sad of all). The point is that some of these seniors with no grandkids to participate with are still able to find a good stride in life if they have an adequate income, good friends to enjoy, and most of their health is good.
There is much I need to find out about how to have a more enriching life as a older lady, and one of them is certainly avoiding becoming isolated. Laughably, I have just done that to myself because I had to leave my old home and move in with my son – in a new state and town I’ve never lived in before. I guess I’ll have to figure out some creative ways to get connected with a group in the new place asap!
More ruminations to come: Happy Hopes Lists!
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