Forum: On aging gracefully, gratefully (and parenthetically)

Regardless of my accomplishments, I still doubt I can fulfill my ‘promise’ with the time I have left.

Edie Everette

Edie Everette

By Edie Everette / Herald Forum

I am not handling aging well. I didn’t think it would happen to me. There was a time when I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to yet in life and would see someone 10 years older and think, “Well, at least I have more time than they do.” But time is running out.

I know I’m supposed to be grateful every day that I wake up above ground and all, but I’m not great at being grateful, either. When I was 18, my 21-year-old boyfriend died of cancer. When I was 30, my 45-year-old boyfriend died of the same. I have had so much more time than they did, yet here I am whining. It’s disgusting. So, add guilt to the list.

I was voted ‘Sexiest’ in high school. Johnny S. won it for the male category, which I must agree was a fact. In my younger days I was able to maneuver through life using my natural gifts of seduction, but no more. Now, armed with a muffin-top and double-ish chin, I am left on my own to maneuver by … what? Kindness, humor, service and gifts of zucchini bread? Seduction was so much easier then.

(I realize that all my paragraphs have begun with ‘I’, which suggests self-centeredness. I know I’m supposed to ‘”get out of self” in order to “be of use,” et cetera. So, add self-centeredness to the list.)

Now let’s talk about my hands. They hurt. That speckled, moonstone ring I love no longer fits over my bulbous knuckles. My fingers are slowly curving outward, like poet Theodore Roethke’s geranium in his poem by the same name. His plant tried to lean toward a sunny window but looked so pathetic that the housekeeper tossed it before Mr. Roethke sacked her.

Painful knees cause me to walk downstairs as if I am made of glass. I take one step at a time, an elder toddler holding tight to the hand of God; or a railing.

I remember my father saying that he would never die. And in a way he has not. His humor and love live on within me, although not his patience and optimism. I had all varieties of abstract optimism for my future back in the day, but now that my future is here and I have not fulfilled what I thought was my “promise,” I am becoming regretful and panicky.

At one time I believed I had all the time in the world, that I would get all the chances I’d ever need to write that book, create those dresses, rescue those dogs, paint those watercolors and pass on experience. Yet, I have done much of that: I have had my art exhibited in galleries and my writing published; I have rescued a dog and I still teach art classes.

One silver lining to aging is that I don’t have the funds for cosmetic surgery so will at least grow old gracefully,” i.e., wrinkled as all hell. An older lady can also flirt without it counting, wink without consequences; I mean, unless you’re Madonna. Plus, I do take care of myself: exercise, eat healthy, read books, make art, work jobs, love my family and friends, attend a support group, garden and walk my dogs.

So, add damn lucky to the list.

Edie Everette is a writer and news junkie who lives in Index.

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