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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Certified Gerontologist

Does Aging Suck? Part II

June 3, 2019

Such a potent and controversial topic requires at least two posts to even begin to discuss how the process of getting older can affect us. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the feelings of comfort and ease my husband and I experience while walking George on the same streets we have covered for almost three decades. I know almost all my neighbors—except for those who landed here in the last few years. Those warm, familiar feelings only come with the passage of time, which is the same arc of time in which we get older. These are feelings I wouldn’t give away. 

Decades-long friendships of sharing every success, failure, bad haircut, and yucky boyfriend are experiences I would never trade. The richness of those moments comes from living them. Watching family wee ones being born and then go off to college and down the aisle are priceless joy. The amount of data I hold in my brain, three distinct careers worth, could only be acquired from spending the time learning it. Now I get the chance to share it with the world. Lucky me! To me, half a lifetime of wonderful— and some not so hot—memories with my sweet husband is so worth getting older just to have those experiences in my memory bank. 

My looks aren’t as snappy as they once were, looser has replaced tight, and there are other obvious signs of aging. White is growing in with the blonde; bikinis and sleeveless dresses, things of the past. Yet, I have learned grace under pressure, forgiveness in the face of severe harshness and unfair treatment. I now know how to take a longer view of things and really consider the other person’s world before I pop off my mouth. I also know there is more sand in the bottom of my hourglass than in the top, and that makes me hungry to go and do everything I can, to learn everything I can, and embrace every delicious/fun/exciting moment presented to me. I could never have known these things at twenty-seven or even forty-two.

It takes time for the cloak of age to gently enfold us. And, admittedly, it’s sometimes not an easy path, even for an incurable optimist like me, to accept the changes we must make if we are to thrive in this last third of our lives. Depression, illness, the inevitable loss of those we love, and our never-realized hopes and dreams all work against this acceptance. At times life hands us too much to handle alone. The good news is the older I get the lass I care about things that once made me anxious or stressed in my younger years. I know now if we have worked to keep our bodies and minds the best they can be through good health practices and meaningful relationships, surviving those toughest of times only add to the gifts we can share with others: wisdom, acceptance, and abiding love. 

Until next time, be vibrant!