Not long ago, a very young friend sat beside me to do a little visiting and asked me how it feels to be old. Well, she had no idea what happens when an English professor becomes completely speechless. I knew she wanted an answer and felt I should supply one but had no idea what to say on the spur of the moment.
I began by saying that each of us would probably answer her question differently because we are individuals and then proceeded to express a few ideas, beginning with the notion that aging is a natural process and should be faced head on. The latter idea seemed to add a little confusion; thus, I tried to clarify it by explaining that age is not something to be feared, nor is it something we can run from.
Actually, I rarely spend much time thinking about age because I am well into it and see no need to dwell on the inevitable. We all age differently, and I consider myself to be among the more fortunate elders because I have had little pain during all these years and have been able to remain reasonably active, both physically and mentally. I did tell the young one that I do become aware of age at times when I realize I can no longer be as physically active as I once was. In other words, I don’t enter any foot races but amble along at a fairly slow pace instead. Lifting heavy objects is no longer a simple activity. A hay bale would most definitely need to be divided into small blocks and carried individually to a nearby destination.
In discussing my mental activity, I explained that it has also slowed more than I care to admit and that I tend to forget names and even common words at times. That frustrates me even more than most aspects of aging, but I try to find the answers even if I have to ask others for help.
Of course, the aging process means that we just naturally change in appearance. We develop lines, lose our natural hair color, lose some of our height, and no longer look like teenagers, no matter how hard we try. It never occurred to me to be other than myself because I never felt a need to try to hide my age. I have tried to live each day as it comes along and to find something to enjoy about life. I tried to explain that one of the best aspects of aging is our collecting so many memories throughout the years. Yes, we have memories of all kinds because we have had so many experiences. I prefer to dwell on the pleasant memories, especially when visiting with others, and to save the sad memories for times when I am alone so I won’t disturb those around me.
Having friends of all ages also keeps me from dwelling on the aging process. I like to hear their thoughts and to exchange ideas. I notice that some people like to dwell on their ailments and seem to resent the notion that anyone else could be in worse health than they. I also notice that some people who are in real pain simply refuse to talk about their problems and continue to hold out their hands to help others. I even feel a bit guilty that I have been so fortunate thus far to have had so little pain and so few health problems to list. I closed the conversation with the young one by wishing her a happy life and telling her to collect as many memories as possible so she can enjoy looking back through a long lifetime and being able to tell others how fortunate she has been.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.