This has been the most difficult exploration of the three topics listed above. It’s taken me some weeks, but it’s about my experience, not anyone else’s.
This time I want to address the issue of experience.
With aging, you’d like to think that you have learned a few lessons along the way.
Experience leads to an acquiring of wisdom.
They cross over, inter-twine with each other making you the person you are. Good and/or bad.
It takes time to gather your experiences. You have to go through the good, the bad, the sad and the heartbreaking reality that as a human you are victim to countless painful experiences. With any luck, you experience a few good ones those moments where success is achieved in work or in relationship and the children you produce turn out to be reasonable human beings despite their dysfunctional upbringing. Or better still you discover contentment.
That’s the trick, isn’t it? Contentment.
Sitting comfortably in your skin aware of yourself, your failings and foibles and being happy in yourself that despite everything it hasn’t been such a bad life.
I was always told that in retirement you needed to have something to retire to, not from. I had no trouble retiring from work, I had limitations I was aware of and was glad in the end to be rid of academic paperwork.
Experts in the field of retirement told me I needed to have a sound social network, which always sounded like a good idea but was always going to be a challenge.
I never did social all that well. Connecting with other people hasn’t been my forte in life.
Friendships have eluded me and I understand why. When I was a kid I had mates with whom I spent a lot of time. Playing backyard cricket and footy, riding our bikes around the district and just largely hanging out in the safety of friends who accepted you as you were.
In adulthood, it was a different matter altogether.
Maybe it was a growing awareness of the awkwardness of puberty. The total ignorance as to what was happening to my body. I found out but long after I had been consumed by changes I didn’t understand.
By then self-consciousness had well and truly set in.
I thought marriage would be a saving grace, give me confidence and a greater understanding of women.
None of that happened, babies arrived and took over my life, what I wanted or sought was immaterial to their needs.
Friendship was something discouraged rather than encouraged. I quickly learned that asking a ‘friend’ or indeed anyone to dinner would have dire consequences.
What a self-centred selfish bastard I turned out to be.
And so I didn’t invite nor initiate any person visiting our house.
It can in hindsight be seen as a weakness but self-preservation was my more immediate consideration.
The problem was that at some stage things would come to a head, where living under such conditions would become untenable and change would occur or insanity take over.
Experience shapes us and bends us to live in a way that appears safe and secure. You do your best to deflect attention away from yourself.
Experience taught me that it was safer not to have friends, at least ones I could bring home, and so any semblance of friendship was restricted to my workplace. The above is just a snippet of my life and my experience. There is much more and I have tried not to make it an ‘Oh poor me” tale.
I wanted this post to be about wisdom, the getting of it and the application of it but in the past few weeks, there have been things/stuff that has gotten in the way.
Wisdom comes with age, so they say, though we do know plenty of self-absorbed people for whom wisdom is a concept they have chosen to ignore because it doesn’t apply to them.
Wisdom comes from experience, which comes from aging and watching the world go around you and from out of that we acquire an understanding of our environment.
It’s one thing to have it, it’s another to know what to do with it.
In the past few weeks, my best friend has discovered that her son has cancer. He has a disability and didn’t tell her until his discomfort became so intense he had to say something.
It started with him having a sore eye. Within a week his problem had escalated to surgery to remove his eye and the discovery of cancer behind the eye. It is a nervous wait to find out if the cancer has spread or has been contained.
In this circumstance, the response has been highly emotional. My friend is facing the prospect of her son dying and that is something no parent ever wants.
The other thing to have happened is my children’s grandmother dying. She was a lovely lady, happy in her own place and very unhappy when placed in a nursing home.
Her death brought together my six children.
It has been a wonderful few days as it is rare for my kids to be in the same place.
They are all approaching middle age, (they’d be horrified to know I’ve said that). They are adults with whom I have beautiful adult relationships.
I am very proud of my children’s achievements and doubly proud when I saw them in action at their grandmother’s funeral.
So I asked myself what has wisdom got to do with any of this?
The answer is in how I responded to their comments on life, their mother, the funeral and most importantly their grandmother. For me it was about hearing what they said, understanding where it was coming from and accepting that we don’t always agree, but rather accept that for each of my children see the world from their own perspective.
Wisdom this past week has been about listening, setting aside any agenda I might have and allowing my children to vent and tell the stories most dear to them.
At the same time, my friend in dealing with her son’s illness was about my being there for her, allowing her to vent her frustrations and understanding that in me she felt she could do just that. I was allowing her the right to express her deepest fears.
It was not about me, it was about her for the most part I found it difficult to know what to say. I wrote her a note, as words work better for me that way, in which I said the best thing she could do for her son was to be his mum. Love and care for him the way she always had.
My acquired wisdom gathered over the past sixty years + came to the fore, helped me out in the above situations. Do you think you have become wiser as you’ve aged
Lucy Aldesire came from a long line of seductresses. Within her family there was tradition, there were standards and those standards must be adhered to otherwise the family name would be besmirched.
The trouble was Lucy wasn’t very good at being a seductress. Fate had her born to an incredibly beautiful mother who in Lucy’s mind had obviously kissed a frog in the town pond for when she came along it was clear her father’s genes had won out over her mother.
Nevertheless, Lucy was told from an early age that she was to carry on the family traditions of seductresses and there was no question that she wouldn’t.
She had watched her mother lure in men with seeming ease, suck their money from them and rejoice in each conquest. Such was her mother’s success Lucy lived a life of luxury and pampering.
But no amount of privilege made the difference when each plain Jane in the community was far more attractive than Lucy. Where her mother was shapely in all the right places, Lucy was flat in all the wrong places.
Schooled in all the right seductive skills a girl would need to catch her man, Lucy found her basic unattractiveness a real handicap.
Her mother, bless her heart and soul, never tired in encouraging Lucy. She held the eternal hope that one day her daughter would get it and be successful.
But Lucy didn’t develop a shapely body like her mother. Puberty produced a body that sprouted a few unwelcome hairs but very little in the upper body. Her mother tried everything she could. Fake bras with fake breasts, hip pads instead of shoulder pads though she could well have done with some of those.
As a teenage girl growing up and showing little if any change to her body shape it became obvious to her friends that Lucy was not a chip off her mother’s block.
Despite her lack of physical development, she was blessed with the most amazing eyes. She soon realised that though her body was letting down it was her eyes that lured men and boys in. It was like she could mesmerise you, entice you into a world where you lost control and found yourself surrendering to her charms.
It proved quite a money earner, as Lucy had only to flash her eyes at any man she targeted and they willingly opened their wallets for another look into her eyes.
So it was that Lucy followed in the family’s footsteps, not in the traditional way but by using her own unique gifts.
When he took the job there was great excitement as after years of trying he had finally achieved the promotion he had been seeking for so long.
Full of expectation and anticipation of a new life opening up before him he set off to start his new career.
It wasn’t long before he was brought back to earth. His predecessor had been in the position for a lot of years and had been well-loved by the staff below her.
At his first staff meeting whilst introducing himself, he became aware of a sense of resistance to him.
Being new, and much younger he was keen to make his impression on the job, establish himself as the initiator of change for the benefit of all.
For every element of change, he suggested he was met with the phrase: “That’s not how Brenda did it”.
It became obvious to him that the staff were very stayed in their methods and attitudes. It felt like he had the job as head of the department, but Brenda’s influence like a hand from the grave dogged his every move.
Written for: https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/2022/02/21/what-do-you-see-122-february-22-2022/
One of the unspoken aspects of aging is what happens when we stop aging and cease to be, that is die!
There’s no escaping it though I read this morning of certain drugs that can slow the aging process. But no matter which way you look at it, there is that inevitable end.
So I looked at my own situation and decided to take matters into my own hands.
I have set up a pre-paid funeral plan.
Not that I have any intention of putting the plan into use in the near future but one never knows.
The reason for doing this is somewhat layered.
I don’t want my kids to be lumbered with the expense of a funeral, they all have mortgages and I don’t want my demise to put pressure on their finances.
Nor do I want a church service, undertaker and flowers. More expense as I see it.
Nor do I want to be buried as all of my forebears have. I wander around the cemetery where many of them are interned and I feel so sorry for all those souls whose headstones are faded, their plots grown over, so many of them so long forgotten. There is a disused cemetery just near where I live and thankfully some wise person many years ago, recorded the names of those buried there. If you went looking now so many of the old sandstone headstones are illegible.
So burial is not for me.
My funeral plan is for cremation only. When the time comes they collect me, cremate me and return my ashes to my kids.
What they do with the ashes they can decide, such as throw me over the backyard or what my aunt did to a daughter who died, put her ashes in the bottom of a pot with a rose growing in it.
I have suggested that if they feel so moved they could have a post-death wake where memories good, bad and indifferent could be shared with invited family and friends.
So what might be your plans concerning arrangements when you pass on.
Some people go the full hog, expensive casket, flowers, church service, beautifully scripted eulogies, favourite songs choirs and or orchestras.