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December 4, 2019

Remembrances Too Many To Forget

John W. Ashbury

As we all reach – or anticipate reaching – our senior years, most of us are happy to have made it as far as we have. We've wondered just how far we would go. Some of us reached our goals; some didn't – or haven’t yet.

A youngster asked recently how I felt about being OLD.

Growing older, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be.

Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body. The wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the bulging stomach.

And often I am taken aback by that old person who lives in my mirror, but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my exceptional wife, or my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that fourth copy of a rare book on Frederick County's history.

I realize that I don't have to buy new clothes as my weight fluctuates. I just go to the closest and pull out the ones that fit – oh, so many years ago. And the styles that were popular back then are back for another round.

I am entitled to be messy…

…to be extravagant (if I have the money)…

…and to spend some time simply smelling the flowers.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world way too soon and before they understood the great freedom that comes with getting older.

Whose business is it if I choose to read - - - or play on the computer until 4 AM and then sleep until - well - whenever?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50's & 60's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love...I will.

If I choose, I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over my bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to - - - despite the pitying glances from the bikini set.

They, too, will get old. (If they're lucky)

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But then again, some of life is just as well forgotten. I eventually remember the important things.

And over the years my heart has been broken.

How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet must be put down?

But broken hearts are what gives us strength - - - and understanding - - - and compassion for those less fortunate.

A heart never broken is pristine - - - and sterile - - - and will never know the joy of being less than perfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs forever etched into deep grooves on my face - - - although my fat hides them pretty well.

So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

I can say "no," - - - and mean it.

I can say "yes." - - - and mean it.

As I've gotten older, it is easier to be positive. But I keep those thoughts to myself. I don't want to ruin the image I have taken 80 years to perfect.

I care less about what other people think. Not sure how that is possible because I never really did anyway.

I don't question myself anymore. Never did that either because I'm sure I'd come up with some smart-aleck answer.

I've even earned the right to be wrong - seldom though it be.

So, to answer that youngster's question, I like being older.

It has set me free.

I like the person I have become.

I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day... if I want.

Today, I wish you a day of ordinary miracles.

Love simply.

Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

BE NICE - - - - - - or at least don't be so grumpy - like me.


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