- You’re never too old to live a little.
Mom spends most of her days doing enjoyable things like “nothing.” She gets up early in order to be dressed and ready when breakfast is served in her assisted living apartment. After my father died, she became used to this additional attention even though she is able to shuffles to the dining room for lunch and dinner. She faithfully takes her medication after breakfast, straightens the corner table next to her recliner and is now good for the day.
Prior to taking her to dinner to celebrate her 90th Birthday, I walked into her apartment and caught her napping. She could barely sleep at night before the age of 85. She now naps three times per day. She was delighted to show-off new shoes that made her feet look dainty and felt comfortable – “I feel like I am walking in slippers.” She was quick to hike-up one pant leg and reveal how sleek her ankles appeared in the tanned support hose, following the increased dosage of her water pill.
- Don’t defy “depravity”
While at her birthday dinner, Mom’s eyes lit up when the server inquired if anyone cared to have a cocktail. As she normally drinks Root Beer when taken to lunch, Mom’s birthday was motivation for her to go for the jumbo-sized Texas Margarita. Although it only took a few sips for the alcohol to reach her toes, this provided a great photo-op. My Mother, “the Immaculate Mary”, could no longer defy “depravity” with age.
I learned that she no longer ate everything on her plate and refusing to eat something new, like Brussel sprouts, had become acceptable. While exercise classes were conveniently being missed, walking and tumbling have become her new routine. Her priest has pointed out that her attendance at the monthly Mass needs improvement. I thought my mom lost it when she failed Grieving 101. She could not remember all the stages of grief and was admittedly glad that my dad was at peace. She seemed eager to join him.
- Be your own person
When asked if there was anything significant to her life, she was speechless. She neither wished to dwell on the past or express gratitude. I wondered if aging gracefully had something to do with not talking about sacrifices as being successes. That might be viewed as boastful and perhaps her idea of a cardinal sin. Redemptive suffering might well have been her ticket to paradise throughout life. And believing that she actually had a good life might risk her salvation. Aging gracefully is standing strong in your conviction.
My mother may not be boastful, but I can still brag about her accomplishments. Her claim to fame was being college educated at a time when women rarely completed high school. She became a medical technician, meeting the high achievement of being “registered.” To this day, the password that unlocks her computer is not a wedding anniversary or child’s birthday, it is the random number given to her by the medical registration board. She carries this honor as a cherished memory. Becoming her own person is an everlasting lesson on how to age gracefully.