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Posted on December 13, 2023 by Judith Frizen in 

Aging: A Timeless Presence


Aging:  A timeless presence

 BY JUDITH FRIZLEN

My mother once told me I was the boldest, shy girl she had ever met. It has taken decades for me to understand how those contrasting qualities impact my life. Now that I am in my sixties, I know that boldness drives me to speak out. Instead of being shy about aging, I am saying it is not how we are led to believe it is in our youth-obsessed society. It is not a state of diminishment but rather one full of wisdom and wonder!

Looking back on my childhood, I recognize that my primary models for aging were my grandparents. My seven siblings and I respected them and their esteemed role in the family. They were kind and caring, never flustered, which seemed a superpower that brought out the best in us. Indeed, their words and actions impacted us, but even more so, it was their way of being. Knowing such a presence was possible led me to embody it.

 “I’ve realized that when we embrace rather than resist aging, we embody the wisdom it brings and inspire future generations.”

While experiencing the stages of life from girlhood to motherhood and, most recently, as a grandmother, I have realized the extraordinary power my grandparents had. They had wisdom gleaned from experience, which is a benefit of aging. It gave them clear priorities, acceptance of life, and a quiet steadiness. Grandma was a skilled gardener and cook who loved reading enough to walk two miles to the library to borrow books. She nurtured us with home remedies when we were sick, which soothed our bodies and souls. Her touch was both gentle and firm.

Grandpa taught us card games like Canasta and joked with us – ever light and playful. He sent us letters written on his typewriter when we were away and kept abreast of what was happening in our lives and the world. Grandma and Grandpa were a great match; they showed respect for others and acceptance of what they had, which always seemed to be enough. They embraced life’s cycles and did not try to change what they could not reverse, including aging.

When we became grandparents, we wanted to be like them – calm, competent, and caring. My husband and I have lived our entire lives contributing to our communities and taking time for outdoor recreation. But when we are with the grandchildren, we are in the present. We slow down, silence our phones, and share moments of wonder and delight.

“These differences are big to us but insignificant to the grandchildren who view us as models for aging.”

In this place of wonder, time expands. An ageless way of being connects us with our shared humanity rather than a particular time or place. And my grandparents were indeed from another time. Grandma always wore dresses, whether cooking or shoveling snow; I never saw her wear pants. Grandpa wore a dress shirt at home, ran errands, or went on a picnic. Their attire was formal, distinguishing them from baby boomers, who still dress casually regardless of age. Our jeans are well-worn.

Our attire and my generation’s experiences are different from my grandparents’. We have more modern conveniences than they had, granting us more free time. Even when we age, we are still bicycling, kayaking, yoga, and other activities. These differences are big to us but insignificant to the grandchildren who view us as models for aging. What they tune into is not what we do but how they feel in our presence.

What others feel reflects our internal status. Are we at peace or resisting what is happening? We can mitigate some signs of aging but cannot stop it. Rather than lamenting the loss of skin elasticity, we may acknowledge gains in heart elasticity. I marvel at how free I am to give and receive love, forgive and ask for forgiveness, embrace and let go – beyond what I thought possible.

Although baby boomers are more active than previous generations, and technology has brought many changes in how we connect, intergenerational connections are still meaningful. It is innate in humans to seek joy, safety, and connection. These connections allow grandparents to share wisdom gleaned from experience, bypass loneliness, and provide a model of graceful aging for younger generations.

I’ve realized that when we embrace rather than resist aging, we embody the wisdom it brings and inspire future generations.

aging

Her newest literary treasure, Where Wisdom Meets Wonder: 40 Stories of Grandma Love, celebrates the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

 

 

 

Judith Frizen

About the author

Judith Frizlen is a writer, teacher, mother, grandmother, and founder of the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center. She advocates for young children and everyone who cares for them – she is a play champion. Her newest literary treasure, Where Wisdom Meets Wonder: 40 Stories of Grandma Love, celebrates the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Follow her blog at www.judithfrizlen.com.

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