Weekly Writing Challenge: The Golden Years


 I am just now submitting last week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which said, in summary, “to explore what age means to you”.

In a mere one year and seven months, I will be as old as the cassette tape.  How old is that you ask?  Well, that would be a half-century, fifty years old, and a milestone.  I have heard it called the youth of old age.  Currently, I am hanging out in the old age of youth.

When I was a mere youngster, I viewed the elderly with wonder.  I could often make them smile with my antics and as I have mentioned before, I coveted attention.  My wrinkly friends were interesting with their silver hair and glasses, and their candy producing pockets.  I remember shrieking with delight as they stole my nose, or tickled my tummy.

Although I was certainly raised to have the utmost respect for my elders and always have outwardly, my thoughts were not as kind as I approached my teen years.  I lost interest in what they had to say and misinterpreted their unsolicited advice as intrusive and somewhat provincial.  I misread love and concern for fault-finding, dismissing their opinions as I would an unwanted suitor.  After all, what could they possibly know about my situation?  I sometimes lacked patience with stories I had heard countless times and became frustrated by their slower gait or by having to repeat myself.

As I faced my own trials in life, I often failed to listen to and learn from those possessing that hard-earned wisdom.  I could have saved myself so much pain and I could have gleaned so much!  But, my story isn’t a new one and I have been on the other end of that kind of stubbornness and know-it-all mentality myself now.

I don’t recall exactly when fresh waves of realization began to hit me regarding the need to learn from those above me in age and wisdom, but it may have been around the time I lost my mother, before she ever reached the 50-year milestone.  Life as I had always known it was forever altered.  The old adage, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” resounded in my soul, no longer shrouded by unfamiliarity, but suddenly crystal clear to me.  Her death left me questioning everything and angry that she wouldn’t be here to continue being “Nana” to my 6 year old or the baby I was carrying.

Not too long after her death, I made my peace with God and found solace in His embrace.  As a result, I began to re-think a lot of things.  I noticed the elders of the church and realized their steadfastness, through trial and hardship.   Their examples were an inspiration to me and I began to feel a deep sense of gratitude for their prayers.  No longer were the “stories” taxing my nerves.  I began to appreciate the experience and knowledge their lives had rewarded them with.  My respect and love for them was once again freely given.

Now, as I ponder the approaching “golden years”, I already have a taste of what being older brings.  Some things, like achy joints and not so perfect vision, are annoying to say the least.  But some of the other things, like wisdom and experience and a new found freedom to be just who you are without fear, are priceless.

I am not afraid of death and what is on the other side of life, but if I am transparent, sometimes, I admit, it’s the aging that scares me.  I think I am more afraid of being alive when no “life” remains.  I know many people feel the same way.

My prayer is that for the remainder of my life on this earth, I will be a wise mentor; that I will share faith. hope and love and be a confidante and friend to those younger than I.  I am blessed to have known many wonderful “golden age” people and it’s my turn to press forward, bravely, on the path to being one of them.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

love is

The writing prompt at The Daily Post, said, “This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.”  If I understood correctly, we are to write from the perspective of someone else.  Here’s my attempt:

“Honk, honk, honnnnnnnkkkk”.  The young man slowed as he came alongside and looked at me angrily and mouthed what appeared to be obscenities.  He continued pressing his horn as he sped by me, my hands gripping the steering wheel securely at the 10 and 2, just like my dad taught me.  Maybe I was going too slow, but better safe than sorry.  The honking incident hadn’t done much in settling my nerves today.

Moments later, my blinker flashing, I carefully turned into the grocery store and found a spot up close.  That walk isn’t as easy as it used to be and although I’m not ready for a handicapped space yet, the closer the better.  Before I opened the door, I plundered in my pocketbook for an elusive tube of lipstick.  I feel like I need some color, but I’m careful in my application.  I don’t want to look like those old women who miss their lips and color outside of them.

Getting out of the car, I glance down at my Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes and have to remember to be thankful I can still walk instead of wishing I could still sport high heels without pain or injury.

Entering the store, I walk toward the long line of carts and immediately sense the impatience of the sharply dressed young lady behind me.  She is obviously in a huge rush, so I hurry to get out of the way and feel grateful when the cart comes apart from the others easily and all the wheels work.

As others pile into the store, I again feel the pressure to move out of the way, to get through the front door and move to the side.  Tears well up, as I realize I’m considered an obstacle or a bother once again.  I long for my love, my soul mate to be here with me, by my side.  His hand would always guide me and his presence gave me comfort.

In the aisle for baking goods, as I struggled to read the ingredients on a jar, another woman, this one large and more interested in talking on her cell phone, than paying attention, almost knocks me over.  I overhear something about “the old fool” to her friend on the phone.  I am older now, but I still have feelings and ears.  What happened to respecting the elderly?

I look at the cases of water, and would love to get some, but I’m not sure I can grip and lift, and then I would have to also get it into the car, and then into the house.  The cart is heavy even without the water, but I manage to get the few items I came for and make it to the check out.

The young man operating the register asks, “paper or plastic?” in a frustrated tone, like perhaps he’d already asked me before, so I answer him and begin to arrange my items on the belt.

Behind me, I notice a beautiful young woman, maybe barely in her twenties, wearing a big smile.  She says, “Ma’m, could you use some help?” I looked at her with damp eyes, her kindness griping my heart.  Before I could answer, she was at my side, unloading my groceries.

Her only purchase was a gallon of milk, so she quickly caught up with me before I made it to my car.  She insisted on helping me put the groceries in my car, told me to have a nice day and carefully closed my door, when I got in.  With that big smile and a little wave, she was gone.

This young lady had no way of knowing it, but this was my first shopping trip ever without my husband by my side.  He passed away just last month and after all the affairs were settled and the family all back to their homes, I found myself alone, with empty cupboards.

My emotional state was fragile and this girl showed me attention, respect and kindness, asking for nothing in return.  I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and into a genuine smile for the first time in a long time.

Mitch Teemley

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