By Don Lindsey
“I hurt all over more than any place else.”
My mother has always had a way of saying things that totally stop you in your tracks to laugh. She dropped that little saying on me while I was helping her into our SUV on Tuesday as we set out for a doctor’s appointment for her. She’s always quick to throw out a funny saying or a story to get you chuckling.
Some of the sayings that will always stick in my mind are times like when she told me “if I stood on my head and spit nickels, you’d want quarters.” I can’t remember what I was complaining about at the time, but she turned my foul mood around with that little antidote. Her delivery also made it hard to be upset around her. I find that is still true today. Her constant laughter and good nature is contagious and it’s been more than a blessing having her living here with us.
With her, aging is about humor and slowing down to enjoy the process around you. A good example of this is something that happened two weeks ago. Both of my parents and myself were frantically looking for my mom’s dentures. We looked everywhere for them and even had my daughter Emma helping. Well, after about 20 minutes, we finally found them in the door of the refrigerator. We still don’t know why she put them in there, but we spent longer laughing than we did searching and had another good one last week when my dad spent a while looking for his dentures while they were in his mouth. Those moments could have been embarrassing or upsetting but because they were able to not take themselves so seriously, they ended up being the kind of positive memories that will stick with me forever.
I’m not trying to make it sound as if the aging process is a cake walk for my parents. Mom turns 87 on January 12 and dad follows suite in April. I’ve seen firsthand how hard the aging process can be. What used to be little aches and pains are a lot harder to deal with and it seems as if every doctor or hospital visit leads to a series of some sort of testing. What inspires me is how they handle it all. My mother understands that doing anything quickly is just not possible so when we go anyplace, we leave a little earlier to allow for her to have some extra time to move at her pace. I once wrote an article about aging gracefully and to me, my mother personifies that based off her way to combine a love of life with an intelligence that I’ve been lucky enough to witness. Sure, most of the time she doesn’t know what day it is, but she remembers almost everything from her childhood and mine exposing my kids to all of the family stories I grew up with while telling them about how and where I was raised.
My father had a rough last year, but he ended it very well. Except for a cold/flu thing we all have been passing around the house, he’s been doing well medically and that’s great news because he fell a few times last year while also having a couple of hospital visits. I think the thing I admire the most about him now is how aware of health he is. He’s always been someone who eats healthy and takes care of himself, but he’s gone out of his way to do that even more in the last couple of months and is probably in better physical shape than I am in now. He knows his body enough to know when something is wrong, and we always take care of it right away. He caught and defeated skin cancer this way a few months ago and it started when he noticed something that was just a tad bit off on his left cheekbone. His attention to detail when it comes to health matters is something I look to take into my senior years.
As I get older, the more fascinated I am with how people handle aging. I will officially hit my mid-40’s in a little over a week and I’ll be honest, I’m having aches and pains now in the mornings. If I’m blessed enough to make it to 87, I’m sure I won’t have the grace that my parents have. Then again, my parents have also taught me that life is what you make it and that goes for growing old as well. For some, with age comes a burden. The pain and medical problems feel too overwhelming. For others, with age comes a blessing to be alive and to enjoy life. The answer for me it would seem is to take a page out of my mom and dad’s book combining dad’s desire to be healthy with mom’s laid-back good nature. If I can do that then getting older becomes a privilege and a blessing. I realize that I’m not the only person born who ages so it’s my prayer that we all age with grace, and joy. God bless, and have a great week.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, and community.