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Speeding up, slowing down: lessons on aging

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

Now that I’ve settled into age 60, I have a few observations.

One over-arching theme of 60 is humility. It’s humbling to recognize that so many cliches about one’s – ahem – advanced years are now true. Attention young people: (and by young people, I mean anyone 59 and under) please take notice when your elders make these observations because your day will come sooner than you think.

For example, things take a turn. Now don’t tell me about those rare birds running marathons at 90 or Betty Giboney holding down a full-time Courier-Times reporter’s job at 78. I’m talking about the typical person whose hearing, knees and hips aren’t what they once were.

Down side: I know that my hearing isn’t what it was. Up side: my lip reading has improved because Brian has been telling me that my hearing is failing for so long that I don’t have to hear the words, only watch his mouth move. Curiously, I have no problem hearing my knees creak. 

But there’s more good news! I’d always heard that older people don’t need as much sleep and that they get up by choice at ridiculously early hours. Well, it’s true. But I don’t mind rising at 5:45 a.m. I’m up at least a couple times in the night as it is and sometimes then I find myself thinking, Good. I’ve only got another hour before it’s a respectable time to stay awake.

I enjoy that early hour alone to sip black coffee and welcome the day. I also find that I now need the extra time to make myself presentable. It’s true; I deteriorate in the night. Getting up early means I don’t have to rush. I’m tired of rushing. I like a slower pace, and if you can’t have a slower pace at 5:45 a.m., when can you?

That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, but the answer might be 7:30 p.m. when I’m lately I’m ready for bed. And hey, that’s just science; everything has an equal and opposite reaction.

What I also notice is how quickly time not only rushes by, but seems to evaporate before my eyes. I will think of a story I wrote that seems as though it was about two years ago only to find that I penned it five years ago. Or say we visited my brother and sister-in-law in Liberty a month ago. Then I find out that no, that was actually two months ago. 

I don’t know how it is that we’re in 2019. Time is racing by, even as I savor my pre-dawn coffee.

My church-women’s life group is called the Midlife Moms, or MLMs for short. What a difference a dozen years makes. At age 48, we were legitimately at midlife. After all, if we lived to be 96, which of course we all intended to do, as though we had any say in the matter, we were midlifers with years to spare. Even at 52, we could each name someone we knew who made it to 104. So sure, we could claim midlife.

But at 60? That means we’d have to live to 120 to truly be at midlife right now!  I’m just saying that OK ... we’re officially pushing it.

What I also know about 60, though, is that traditional time tables have shifted. For years I compiled mental lists of my best stories in case I needed the clips for future job opportunities. Brian checked out the job boards to keep an eye on what administrative positions were open. Just in case, you know. 

Or we’d talk about how “someday we’d like to visit there,” regarding a vacation spot.

What I know now is that we’re no longer interested in future career moves to something bigger and better. Brian is retired, for heaven’s sakes! And if we’re going to visit a certain vacation spot, build a dream house, or even buy a new sofa to replace the thread-bare one, it’s time.

Yes, it’s time to build that bucket list for what’s next. And to use the good bubble bath rather than save it.

The time is now to keep writing regular devotions about God’s input in my ordinary life, something that I enjoyed and felt challenged by last year. The time is also now to do my best to get and stay as healthy as is within my ability – knowing that health of every kind is priceless.

And maybe, we should think about renaming our ladies life group. A friend in Ohio mentioned that in her church, women of a certain age have a group called WOW. I would like to be a WOW. What woman wouldn’t?

In her church, the group stands for Wise Older Women. Yes, that’s it! I would like to be a WOW! And I would like to start NOW.

Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women.