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  • Donna Arthur Downs

Aches & Pains & Aunt Freida

As I talked to my momma tonight, we mentioned aches and pains and Aunt Freida who’s 92 and can’t figure out why her body hurts.

I said, “Well, she IS kinda old…but we’re all getting there.”

“Your parents aren’t getting old; we ARE old,” Momma said. I mentioned that she’s only 21 years older than I, so….once she gets to Heaven, her kids aren’t far behind….She said she can’t complain because she’s had 81 good years.

How does one process aging? I must say that 60 hit hard this year. Fifty was decently acceptable, but 60, well…shall I mention AARP? Senior discounts? Graying hair? (oops…that happened at 35!)

As I sit here in front of the fireplace under low lights, I imagine the days when I used to think Grandma was old when she was 60, 70, 80….and I’m amazed at how I am now 60 and 80 doesn’t seem so old any more.

In Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle says, “I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one and forty-five and … and… and…” How true this is! She goes on to say, “If we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.”

When we are young, we cannot imagine what being 60 feels like. When we are older, who we were at 5, 13, 21, 35, 43, 59 is ingrained in who we are today. Memories and lessons from when we first learned to ride a bike to fishing with Grandpa to that first date…they are all a part of our aging minds, bodies and souls. And though we’ve changed, hopefully matured and become wiser, we remain the same.

I am the frightened girl walking up the path alone to Grandma’s house and I’m the mature woman flying across the ocean to lands never experienced. I’m the granddaughter who remembers making taffy and fudge with Grandma and the grandma who loves to make cookies and muffins with the grandkids. I’m the daughter who wants to care well for her parents and the parent who wants to care well for her sons. I’m all those parts and pieces of who I’ve ever been all wrapped into one big bundle, at times remembering the small acts of kindness that made me who I am today but also remembering the hurtful moments that create pause.

And I’m still afraid of snakes. (just had to say that)

But, seriously, aches and pains and Aunt Freida mean that we’re still living, experiencing and moving forward. Old? Perhaps. But alive and well and thankful that each day is a new beginning.

© Donna Arthur Downs

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