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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
That was then (08/06/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns


     
"This ain't my first rodeo," Vern Gosdin chortles. Live, learn, and hang tough. With age comes change. Personal habits, quirks, lifestyles, and philosophies don't usually carry through from one season of life to another without alterations.

What worked for a woman at twenty years of age isn't apt to cut it when she's fifty. Never mind the old snapshots of that young vivacious self in bellbottom pants, a beehive hairstyle, that rose tattoo on her shoulder, and waving a "Back to Woodstock!" banner.

You may cringe as you recall stuffing Kleenex in your training bra, going on your first date with a mouthful of braces, leaving the house with rollers and a tacky scarf on your head, and that home perm that went fuzzy and left you looking like Orphan Annie. All that belongs to yesterday.

As a wife, mother, and grandmother (all the same individual) turns 65 and retires from a long lasting career or job, it's likely most things aren't as they were way back when she was 25.

For instance: She once would spend an entire day cleaning, polishing silverware, and fussing over a fancy dessert for tomorrow's Ladies Aide meeting. Now she clears off the kitchen table, lights a couple scented candles, opens the box of cookies she bought at the bakery, and slaps on her red hat as the girls arrive.

While she rocked a child with an earache or whipped up a batch of brownies, a toddler at her heels, the tears flowed as her soap opera "family" had one of its more dramatic moments. In her sixties, she grunts and huffs with TV aerobics that launch her day of shopping and scrapbooking. Martha Stewart is good for an occasional "warm and fuzzy" homespun fix. Judge Judy is her heroine.

She once bugged her 60 year old mother about wearing ugly granny shoes with the thick soles and those corny sweatshirts with statements: "World's Greatest Grandma" and "Elvis Lives!" Today, the daughter enters a more slow-paced world of her own, wearing, you guessed it, comfortable but ugly shoes and a Garth Brooks T-shirt.

Back then, one felt obligated to host a Tupperware party so her sister could earn extra points for free stuff. At sixty-five, you seldom respond to any of those walk-in, walk-out gab sessions, where someone just happens to have a lavish display of jewelry, candles, or intimate apparel, and you just know you would see something you couldn't live without.

Years back, you often felt betrayed in your narrow belief that if you followed the ten commandments and prayed daily nothing bad would befall you, compliments of God. You've come to realize that bad things do happen to good people. God answers your prayers, but sometimes your wishes aren't His will. What you pray for nowadays is strength and guidance to see you through the rough and tough times. The deeper your well, the more abundant the content.

As an ambitious, healthy mother of little tykes, you felt like you could conquer the world. At retirement, long awaited, you may feel as though you did. Soon, the most surprising wave of freedom comes over you. Despite whatever aches and illnesses you may have developed, as the stress and obligations melt away a renewed individual evolves. You're back in the saddle again.

At twenty-five there are things a woman hasn't realized yet. At sixty-five one can say the same thing. But as one makes her way through the senior years - she accepts rather than rebels, she tries to understand and not judge, to listen more and preach less, she feeds her spirit, and sacrifices certain old pleasures and cravings for a healthy lifestyle.

That pursuit of "the fountain of youth" has been abandoned for do-it-yourself practices and attitude adjustments. You are your own best nurturer. This is so NOW!

Janet Burns has been a lifelong squatter in this neck of the woods. She can be reached at: patandjanburns@earthlink.net 

 

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