”On Death and Dying”

My mother-in-law used to say that you start off going to the happy events in life like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, graduations. As the years pass by you find yourself attending more funerals and fewer weddings.

Soon you’re opening the obituary pages before you read the rest of the newspaper wondering who you’ll know this time. She got to the point where her classmates where dropping like flys. You wonder…why are they so obsessed with death?

But one day you find yourself on the other side of it and you begin to understand what you couldn’t in your earlier year’s. How can you not think of it? Death begins to feel as if it’s in your face all the time as parents, siblings, classmates and friends are dying. There’s always the painful few that are too young and unexpected.

Now my kids don’t like hearing their dad and me talk about death and dying same as we were at their age. I was reading that Americans are a death denial culture. We avoid the topic and when we don’t allow ourselves to talk about things we don’t understand it creates more significant fear around it.

There’s not much we can do to change the fact that we’re all going to die someday. Maybe the most important thing about facing this reality comes from the wake-up call it gives us. Like my dad used to say, ”I looked in the obituaries today, and when I didn’t see myself I was reminded I’m still alive.” Once that reality sets in we can actually use what we read to help us reflect and reevaluate our own lives. Am I living my life the best I can, being kind to others, fulfilling my goals, living my purpose, filling my soul with the best experiences I can show it. As long as we’re still breathing we have the opportunity to become better and better at what God created us to be.

We owe it to the people we care about who pass away to live our life to the fullest. Because when we do, they continue to live on in us.

This is dedicated to Kathy McDowell my husbands cousin, Baby Lucas Dicely our great-nephew, Rob Finger and Peggy Anderson our life-long friends who all passed away within the past year.

“The Gift of Socialization”

laughter and aging

Did you know in our senior years socializing is as important as eating a healthy diet and exercising?

I knew a guy who preferred being in the company of younger people. He said it was because they made him feel more alive than those of his own age. I love the various ages of the people in my life. They bring lots of new and interesting things to the table of life. But it’s my fellow senior friends that I feel the most at home with. As a matter of fact, I don’t feel old at all when I’m with them. I feel free to simply be me. I might notice my friends getting older at first glance. I do the same thing first thing in the morning when I look at myself in the mirror. The funny thing is once I focus in on my eyes everything else around me becomes a blur and I only see who I am on the inside. That part of me seems to be ageless and that’s the part I see when I’m with my senior friends.

If having a social life is that important. Then what are the things that get in the way? To each of us that will be different. Two of the things that get in my way is my anxiety issues and the other is my vanity. I’m not proud to admit to either, but I’ve been making an effort to work on them for a while now and it is getting better. Being a woman there is a part of me that enjoys looking the best I can. But sometimes I can be ridiculous. Like the other day when I was getting ready to go to my Silver Fit workout. Now that it’s getting warmer I put a short sleeve shirt on. Putting my arms out straight I think I could drift through the sky with the wings I have. Then I remembered where I was going, to Silver Fit with all the other ladies who’s arms wobbly-to-n-froe just like mine. Heck, even Jane Fonda has flabby arms. Accessories always help. So, I wore a pair of peachy pink earrings to match my short sleeve shirt.

Let’s face it if we want to swim with our grandkids then we’re going to have to put a bathing suit on. Let’s not forget the big brimmed hat we have to wear now to protect our skin. Then there’s the clunky shoes. I’d much prefer wearing a cute pair of sandals, but if I’m going to shop for hours with my friends. I have to wear comfortable shoes. But you know what I’ve learned? That the older I get the freer my spirits becomes, and that true part of me thinks nothing of saying, “who gives a shit what anyone else thinks.”

My anxiety has gotten so much better over the years. It’s the part of anxiety where I don’t want to burden others with what’s going on inside me. But often getting out and being in the presence of others is the very medicine we need to pull us out of our funks. This happened to me a few weeks ago. I was having some anxiety over the way I was feeling physically. I knew I was alright because my blood test came back normal. But why was I feeling so tired all the time? My friend came early to pick me up and we had time to sit and chat a little before leaving. All of a sudden all my woe’s and worries came pouring out, and with each complaint she said, “Connie, I feel that way too. It’s all part of getting older. You just have to keep pushing yourself through it. Some days will be good and some you will need to rest, but you never give up.”

“I didn’t know you felt this way too,” I said. “You always seem to have it all together.”

“So, do you most of time,” she said.

Knowing I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing made all the difference to me. It reminded me of the years long ago when I’d talk with my friends about the different things going on with our kids or in our marriages. We’d say the same thing back then, “I didn’t know you felt that way too.” What a relief it was to know that what we were experiencing was normal. It’s no different as we get older. Who understands us better than those who are going through the same things as we are?

Feeling supported, feeling normal, feeling seen, recognized and validated and most of all having fun. That’s what having a social life is all about.