• Jane Leder

Hey, I'm Old. There's Nothing Wrong With That

Updated: Jul 2




Dear family and friends, we are gathered here today to honor and celebrate our losses big and small, and to welcome into the fold the changes those losses have inspired.


I know, dear ones. It sounds a bit New-Agey--all this be grateful, feel-good stuff. Who in their right mind wants to celebrate a loss of balance or memory or a body beautiful?


Still, remember, my friends, the Lord/Goddess/Almighty/Creator/Supreme Being --take your pick-- "giveth and taketh away." But the Lord/Goddess/Almighty/Creator/Supreme Being also "giveth back," maybe not what he/she/it/they/we "taketh" but something different and possibly just as valuable.


A Question of Balance

Take the loss of balance as we age. Within the last year or two, I have slid down the back stairs in my house and jammed my toes into a wall before landing on my butt on the kitchen floor. I have tripped over a garden hose that I swore was not there a moment before and, in the process, trampled several plants sending them underground until next spring. I've lost my balance on a slice of black ice, tumbled in a dance class attempting to do a single pirouette, and fallen through a door that I thought opened in when it opened out. Ouch!


The upside? My loss of balance has forced me to slow down. I am more aware of my surroundings ahead, around, and below. I scope out any potential stumbling blocks and either avoid them or traverse them with caution. I hear echoes of "Stop, Look & Listen" and find comfort in its message coming full circle.


I CAN'T Remember

Ah, the loss of memory. Let me count the ways. Phone numbers, passwords, usernames . . . It can be maddening to forget a person's name or a movie you loved more than any other film, or why in the hell you are standing in front of the microwave. Sometimes the lapse in memory is just plain funny; other times, it's scary as hell. The threat of severe memory loss is lurking in the shadows.


But if we can tamp down the fear and "go with the flow" (Am I dating myself here?), a good laugh goes a long way. And keeping our neurons firing by playing word games, learning a new language is another tool we have to cut our losses. Now I've been studying Spanish for, uh, well, nine years mas o menos. Who can remember? LOL I started from the basic Adios and Gracias and can now carry on full-blown conversations--conversations mired in grammatical errors and, I'm sure, head-scratching turns of phrases, but conversations nonetheless. I've toyed with the idea of picking up French again, but I know where to draw the line.


Questioning My Sanity, Are You?

Again, I can hear you questioning my sanity and how this claptrap about celebrating losses actually helps us move forward as we age. Do I wish my balance and my memory were better? Of course. Would I prefer to have the physical body of my forty-something self (Hell, make it fifty, even sixty-something.) Does a bear shit in the woods? But, it ain't happening. We are all moving right along at breakneck speed.


The way I figure things out is this: either we do our best to accept and honor who we were and celebrate who we've become, or we are up shit's creek. As I said to my fifty-year-old dance instructor, "You are watching an older woman disintegrate in front of your eyes. My toes, my knee, my back . . . Oh, yes, my arm. I'm keeping my physical therapist in business."


I laughed. My instructor wasn't sure how to respond.



























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