Sunday, March 12, 2023

When I'm 65!

This coming week I will hit a milestone in my life. I will turn 65 years old. While some people wouldn’t consider this a huge milestone, I do. For one reason, I have outlived my parents who died when they were 59 and 60. For me to have passed by the age of 59 and 60 I am grateful to be on the other side of those years. Unlike many who may feel their aging, I feel like I can finally take in a deep breath and let out a long exhale. 

I retired a few years ago before I was 65 because I was able to while my Best Half worked another year for his pension and to keep me on his health insurance plan. He really is a great guy and talked me into getting out of a nursing job that was slowly sucking the life out of me at the time. While nursing was a great career for the 25+ years I was in it, the last year working saw so many changes to patient care and the profession itself, I wanted to retire. And that was right before COVID hit. I can’t even imagine working through the COVID times with killer schedules and being in the mix of so much death and fear of bringing COVID home to my family.

The past couple years leading up to age 65 have been quite a journey. And for me the past few years I have had so many thoughts and realizations about entering this chapter in life compared to my younger years. While I’m sure I could think of 65 thoughts and ways to be a better human, here are a few that I have found to be the most important for me over the past year. 

The first would be to keep waking up and getting out of bed every morning like I have plans and things to do. Even if I don’t have one thing planned. I think for me it would be easy to stay there in bed and look at my phone and waste away hours looking at what people are doing in their lives through FaceBook. I seriously spent over an hour looking up how to make sourdough starter one morning. I found out it is still something I won’t be trying anytime soon. I need to start my day, every day, by 7 or 7:30 at the latest. While I am usually awake by 5:30, due to the infamous Rooster Gene, I try to use that time to have some quiet moments to be grateful for having a warm bed, a roof over my head and a snoring Best Half next to me. But I will admit, there are days I would rather stay in bed until long after my wake up hour. 

While lying in bed, there is always some hesitation each morning getting out of bed. After many years of playing sports in my youth and getting injured, lifting many people in and out of bed and off the floor during my nursing days, and just plain wear and tear on the joints and muscles I have been hauling around in this body the past 65 years, there is always pain upon rising in the morning. And for me I have just had to resign myself to the fact that in the morning when I rise, there is some pain and the feeling of getting older until I stretch and get moving.

But I have made a very conscious decision not to let pain from arthritis rule my life from the moment I awake through the whole day. I have learned to adjust to the pain and adapt for the most part to get me through the days without many issues. And worst case scenario…there are a few times here and there Tylenol is my friend.

 The first is my mind-set. If I dwell on the pain, it stays with me and becomes my partner for the day. And not really a partner, more like a ball and chain. So upon rising in the morning, I greet the pain and move on. Both literally and figuratively. I tell my pain thank you for letting me be able to still move and feel the pain and then I stretch, doing Tai Chi. Most of the time this works and I go about the day pretty normal. Of course some of the other things I have done are getting some adaptive devices for the things that have become hard. I now have a jar opener that isn’t my Best Half. It is a little gadget I got online that makes me feel like Wonder Woman when opening jars. 

Another realization for me now that I am rounding the corner to 65 is that I now have adult children that I have different levels of relationships with. With only 1 of the 4 kids living in Minnesota and somewhat close by, I would have to say she probably gets the brunt of her parents and dealing with us. Some days I am sure she is texting her siblings and complaining to them about being here alone with us. And other days I think she may even be grateful for having us close by. We tend to try and see them weekly and see the grandkids and have them over whenever we can. But we try also to not smother them all, maybe a fine line at times.

As for the other 3 kids, we try hard to keep in touch and thankfully there is messenger and video calling. As the grandkids get older and have phones and internet access by themselves, we hear from them often. Sometimes several times a day with the younger ones. And for us we try to answer their texts and messages right away whenever we can.

What I have decided over the past few years since we have had more kids out of state and less in person time, we need to make more of a deliberate effort to be in their lives. And I am sure at times we annoy the heck out of them with our ever loving repeated messages to see how they are, but I have decided that I didn’t raise them all those years to not be in their lives and a little bit of a pain to them. A little guilt about not calling their mom more often isn’t a bad thing. 

And speaking of adult children…having never had parents in our adult lives because our parents died young, I’d like my adult children to know that your parents are both winging it when it comes to being a parent of adult children. Neither one of us has any idea how this role of being parents of adult children is to unfold. There is no road map or directions here, so be patient with us. “We only ask to have a relationship with each of you where we can know you still care about us and love us as much as we love you.”, said your mom with a bit of the Jewish/Catholic guilt I was raised with.

Finally, thinking about turning 65, the one important thing I think that has followed me for years, because it is not an aging thing, is that when I wake up every day,  I need to put on an attitude of gratitude. I have had a great life these first 65 years and I know I will continue to have a great life as long as I don’t play into pity and woe as my body ages, as my mind may slow down a bit and as time marches on. I will continue to tell people I love them as we say good-bye, and I will continue to be just enough of a burden to my kids so that they know I am still here. So bring it on and welcome 65! 

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