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Been there - done that (11/13/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"Walk a mile in my orthodics and spandex fanny pants," says the domestic diva to the master of the household. "I'm off to the gym! Have supper ready."

This article, by a 60 year old, is thoughtfully dedicated to all women who have reached the above age, admit it or not, and are fretting to themselves, "I'm too young to feel this darn old!" Listen up!

For all of you "yes" gals out there, your time has come. If you've never sat on a committee, volunteered to be a leader of kids, smiled through agonizing meetings, licked piles of envelopes, and otherwise spread yourself as thin as your favorite pair of blue jeans, you've got to say it!

After the first couple of times, "NO" rolls off the tongue as smooth as twilight's horizon swallows the sun.

I know, sometimes one gets a little melancholy spending so much time alone in a neat and quiet house, which once reverberated with jostling and mouthy teens. Remember what you had planned to do with all that free time you were going to have? Well? Time's a wastin'.

If you've actually given an ailing houseplant mouth-to-mouth to satisfy the nurturing instinct, you may need to get out of the house more. Do lunch with other doting "mommy has-beens." Buy yourself flowers. Sing in the shower.

Hoard these hugs and kisses from the loving grandchildren, to warm you when you're feeling blue. Make friends with yourself.

When the parents of your grandchildren look to you in bewilderment, be warned that those tried and true methods of yesteryear don't get it today. No more,

"wait until your father gets home," "you need a good spanking," and "go to your room" (rather, that state-of-the-art game center).

For the ever-devoted wife, or "the wife" as some husbands choose to call her, who's ever nursed a whimpering man of the house through chilblains and cold sores - "game over!" Don't worry, he'll figure out where the microwave popcorn, air freshener, heating pad, toilet paper, and Rolaids are.

Most young wives whine when their hubby goes off on a fishing or hunting trip with his buddies, or are fit to be tied because he joined a bowling team. That's been going on for years. Be careful what you wish for.

I've heard countless complaints that retired husbands drive their wives nuts, roaming endlessly around the house, sticking his nose into her projects, and muttering that she doesn't love him anymore.

(He should have thought of that when he was off gallivanting in the wilds.) Melodramatic, industrial strength self-pity will get you nowhere.

Give into fashions appropriate for your age. Why? I don't know what I was thinking! Yesterday I came home with a Harley mama's black purse, with its sidesaddle compartments, metal rivets, and chains. But it was on sale.

As you women near retirement age and discover that you have contracted a serious medical problem, step up to the plate swinging! It's not all about YOU. Your family and friends continue to love and need the unique person you have become.

As one door closes, another door opens. Living with illness leads to humility, understanding, and a deeper appreciation of every new day.

I have Parkinson's Disease and osteoarthritis in my back and feet. It's been difficult to face the challenges, helplessness, fear, and down times. Some days, the overwhelming distance of brief destinations can be daunting.

As I've learned to rise above my limitations, recognizing how much greater the burdens of others, I shuffle on.

There's no shame in asking for a helping hand. You'll discover abundant compassion and thoughtfulness in others.

Wisdom finds its way. "You can't change the direction of the wind...but you can adjust your sails."

Carpe diem! 


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