I generally don’t mind telling people my age, at least I didn’t until I turned 40. I didn’t like turning 40. I mean, I remember my mom turning 40 and being embarrassed to tell anyone her age because 40 was next to ancient and of course, none of my friends would have parents anywhere near as old as my 40 year old mom, right? But I did okay pretending I wasn’t 40 until I went for my wellness check (you know, that one that you’re supposed to get every year) and walked out with a referral for a mammogram. Wow. Just like that my age reached up and smacked me in the face. No denying it now; I really must be 40.
But I gradually adjusted to being 40, and then my sister invited me to her stepdaughter’s baby shower. I nearly choked. My sister was about to become a grandmother! A grandma, a nana, a granny. And she’s two years younger than me! Isn’t a granny supposed to be an old woman? Smack. My age reached up and smacked me again because if my younger sister was taking on the title of grandmother, that must mean I’m really getting old.
The baby shower was cute. My baby sister, cake decorator extraordinaire, created the cutest caterpillar cake for the Very Hungry Caterpillar (you know, that cute children’s book?) party theme. And then my niece had her baby, and poof, my sister is a grandmother.
So I’m seeing adorable pictures and videos of this little baby on Facebook, thinking to myself how cute my sister’s granddaughter is. But then I find my thoughts taking a dark turn.
Aging, I’m sure, is probably scary for most people. I try not to dwell on the what ifs of life because why worry about things that may never happen? Still, I find myself thinking about the what ifs anyway. Maybe it’s because I’m single? I find myself thinking about my mom and grandma who both had dementia and died in their early 60s. They each had children to take care of them when they couldn’t care for themselves. But I don’t have children or even a spouse. My stomach knots in fear when I think about that. I think about being unable to work. How would I take care of myself? I have no one else in my life to depend on. I envision myself in a seedy cheap nursing home that no one ever visits. See what I mean when I say my thoughts take a dark turn?
So I’ve been thinking about finding a healthy perspective in being single and well into my 40’s now. I refuse to live in fear of things that may never happen, but how do I keep from doing that?
- I live by faith. My faith is important to me. And as I’ve thought about aging and being single and alone in my older, vulnerable years, I’ve come to the realization that if I truly believe that God loves me, then I have to believe He will take care of me. Period. I don’t have to figure out how He’ll do it, I just need to have the faith that He will.
- I do what I can to prevent chronic illness. I don’t think that living by faith and taking care of myself are mutually exclusive. I think I also have a responsibility to live wisely. To that end, I do things like run, lift weights, and eat a healthy diet to lower my risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. And I try to keep my mind active by reading and learning new things to lower my risk of dementia.
- I save for the future. I have to admit. Sometimes I just want to hoard all the money I make so that I can pay for my care when I can no longer care for myself. But that kind of fear and attitude limits generosity, and I don’t want to rob myself of the blessing of giving. So I save a portion of each paycheck and contribute routinely to my retirement fund, but I also try to give to causes that are important to me.
- I redefine what my age means. What I mean is that we tend to lump people sometimes into categories based on age and say what someone of this age should or shouldn’t do. And of course, there are developmental milestones that are common to people in similar age categories and there are well researched guidelines about illness and aging, but I refuse to let my age dictate what I can and cannot do. At 40, I lost 63 pounds. I became a marathoner at 43 and a two time marathoner at 44. I can deadlift and back squat more than my body weight which I’ve never been able to do in my life. I’m learning a new subject matter with kids who weren’t even alive when I graduated college. Bottom line, at 44 I’m healthier in mind, body, and spirit than I was at 21. Boom!
So my sister’s a grandmother. I’m happy for her. Ecstatic for her, actually! Her granddaughter is adorable! And my sister is one hot grandma! But I’m also happy for me, single at 44, headed straight for 50 in a full on sprint. As long as I have breath in my lungs, I intend to explore life and all that it offers within my physical ability. I have no intention of sitting back and letting age and marital status stop me before I try, whatever the outcome. What I’ve realized is that you’re never too old to make healthy choices and to find the adventure in life. Hey, God doesn’t put an age requirement or limit on people He can use, so why should I let age limit me?
Talk to me:
What did you call your grandmother? What do your grandchildren call you?
What’s something you think you’re too old to do?