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I Am Old


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I wish you could hear my Aunt Janet's voice when you read this.  I am lucky.  I can.  Although she lives nine thousand miles away, I hear her enunciating every syllable.


I Am Old

                                   by Janet Church

I came to a tremendous realization this summer. I am really old. This acceptance triggered a whole new attitude in me. I had been comparing myself to the other Janet: the Janet who remembered names and did at least three things in two hours.  Now in a time space of two hours, I feel proud to do one thing and that one thing can exhaust me.

I think the reason I had a hard time admitting I was old was that we never really say it. We have been called senior citizens for the last ten years.  People describe us as maturity and retirement age. This can hide the fact of being old from our awareness.  Before this summer's revelation, I did not actually admit I had achieved old.  It is quite an achievement getting used to a whole new body and adjusting ones schedule with a lot of time between actions.  Sure we are lucky, but with this luck comes a lot of effort and work. 

Now, my attitude has switched from regret at loss of memory and energy to gratitude for what is left. I have begun to have fun with this old me. 

When people ask me, "How are you?"  I answer that I am old. They laugh as though I were making some kind of a joke. Nobody has yet congratulated me. They say things like, "Oh, you will never be old Janet," and,  "You are as young as you feel!"  I answer that I FEEL old.  If they start to sympathize with me, I simply say, "I feel fine for an old person." Not as fine as I used to feel when everything was working 100% but fine for what is still working. 

My body is weird, but my brain is still alert.  And, I have learned so much -- more than I ever wanted to. I have learned to accept help.  I have learned that people are really nice and considerate.  I have learned WHY people seem more religious as they advance in age.  I used to think they were getting ready for the great unknown.  Now, I know.  You have to pray a little to get up from a chair, get out of a car, and I will not mention the too-low convenience in the bathroom.  

This praying keeps you in close touch with God and this closeness shows in many ways.  We have more things to be thankful for than we ever dreamed of.  Just getting from here to there brings out our gratitude.

 The best thing to be thankful for is that we have a built-in excuse for anything we do not get done.  It is truly an honest excuse.  All my former excuses seemed a little hypocritical.  They did not feel quite honest, even to me.  If I had run a little faster or created a different schedule, I would not have had to make up those excuses.  Now, I do not even have to say them and all those people who are nice and considerate -- that includes my daughter -- seem to understand. 

Along with names, some of my former difficult times have disappeared from my memory and I am mostly left with wonderful thoughts. I sit and enjoy them.  I can even pat myself on the back for accomplishments I have previously ignored. 

It has been a wonderful life, hasn't it?

Click on Janet Church, a poem, to continue to the next page.