Life is Not Static
“Life is not static. It is always in motion, swirling, changing, evolving, dancing, flowing.”
These are the words Joel Conway says about aging. He shared this, along with other inspirational advice, during a virtual Embracing Aging session titled, Just a Regular Guy Talks Aging. His words struck a chord with me.
Growing older brings changes
There are many times I want to shout, “stop time, don’t pass by!” This was especially true as I watched my son grow older. It is true as I watch my parents and in-laws grow older. Sometimes, it is how I feel about my husband’s and my own aging.
Keeping positive through life’s transitions can be hard because we long for what was and fear what lies ahead. Things change.
Changes may bring grief
Grief is a break in an attachment. As we grow older, we experience grief in relationships, material things, our roles and function. This year especially, we faced grief in the loss of plans, events, and celebrations. People even experience grief when we assume things might be one way and those things end up being different.
Grief impacts our psyche
Adjusting to change is hard because we tend to be inflexible. Our inclination is to protect what was. As a result, we complain that things aren’t the same or think no one cares. We internalize this to growing older and become at odds with the natural progress of aging. Often, we blame aging for the changes.
Remember, life is in motion, swirling, changing, evolving, dancing, flowing
Relationships will be different, some closer, others more distant. The things that are important to us will vary. How we spend our time will differ. Our abilities and appearance will ebb and flow.
We need to accept that time marches on. Settle into the person we have become and let others settle into the people they have become. Adjust the ways we think, communicate, and do as we age.
Advice from a regular guy inspires change
I encourage you to watch the recording of my interview with Joel Conway below. My hope is his stories inspire all of us to strengthen our relationships with those we care about and live our aging to the greatest extent.
(Note: there were some sound issues during Joel's response to his first question. We don't want you to miss anything he shared, so below is the transcript of his answer.)
"My Great Grandmother, Anna Howard, died in April 2007.
My favorite memory was that she had long standing tradition of baking family members their favorite cake or pie for their birthday. The tradition started with her two sons and then, their wives; it grew with their kids and wives, then their kid’s kids and wives and so forth. She did this into her middle to late 90s.
Now, I need to confess, I always picked the kind of cake (Walnut) that my own family did not necessarily care for so that I could get most of the cake!!! My father did the same with Blueberry pie.
The fact that she would make the effort, took the time and was dedicated to bake a cake or pie for all the family members on their birthday late in her life has really stuck with me.
Of course, as she aged the quality the cake/pie may not have been the best, but it is the fact that she just did it. I have a story about filling and mothballs, but that a story for another time.
I have taken her tradition to heart and make every effort to recognize all ages of family and extended family like close friends on their birthdays & anniversaries. Now, I am in no way a baker but calling, texting or e-mailing the person is my recipe.
My Grandmother, Edna Howard, died in March of this year. My Grandfather, Darvin Howard was 91 years when he died.
A favorite memory of her was simply visiting and talking with her at the kitchen table. I would arrive, she would be either cutting coupons, reading the newspaper, or doing a Word Search Puzzle. She loved doing the puzzles. It kept her mind sharp and it seemed that she always had several puzzle books that she was working on at one time. She would stop working on the puzzle and then, we would chat. Of course, we would talk about the weather or maybe something in the newspaper.
It was tough to ask her what she has been doing because as she aged, she was not very mobile and did not leave her house too often. However, I always made sure that I asked and engaged with her. I liked talking with her about the past such as her childhood, growing up on a farm, history things that happen during her life time and small-town things (we both grew up in the Red Lion and Windsor area). I was very blessed that my grandmother was able to retain, remember and speak about things in her past.
She shaped my aging in two ways. First, I took the idea of keeping my mind sharp by trying to do a puzzle or game daily. I play Solitaire. Now, I do not get out playing cards. I play it on my smartphone. It does give me a challenge every day.
Secondly, I have an extreme appreciation for the past experiences and wisdom of older people. I like to engage and have a conversation in my own family. Also, I like to do the same with my extended family (the parents of friends). I have been extremely fortunate to have a good foundation of longtime friends where I have gotten know the entire family. Occasionally, I will visit. Take them treats, catch-up and sometimes discuss an experience or period of their life. Older people really deserve our respect because they are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom."