Three years ago this month, I posted my first blog entry.
As Don (aka the Gentleman Caller with Smiling Eyes and now my fiancée) likes to say, many of the posts the first year resembled “The Perils of Pauline” stories… with me getting lost or in “interesting situations” and trying to find ways to get out of them.
Over time, my blog evolved from “The Perils of Pauline” to something that is deeper and richer….some stories have dealt with my faith and how it has grown; some dealt the challenges of being a divorced woman; some have been laugh-out loud stories involving my grandchildren.
And now, per last month’s blog posting, there will be stories about this next stage of my life and the decisions and changes I face as I go from being a divorced woman to a fiancée and eventually a wife.
It is a bit scary to think about getting married at the age of 64.
Thoughts bombard my mind….. getting married again at age 64? Ludicrous!! Am I not too old for this?? I know the sands of the hourglass are greater on the bottom than on the top and there is no way to flip the hourglass upside down. And the sands seem to slip through faster and faster each year.
Yet, the one thing I have learned these last 5 years is that age is merely a number.
As long as I am willing to truly treasure life; to savor all the beauty around me; to laugh at getting older….. if I can keep my heart young, then the chronological number is not as important.
And how did I acquire this perspective on life? Was it from a book or a movie or some deep insight or words to a song?
No… I have been blessed to have four neighbors—four fabulous women in my life (Alice, Fran, Irene, and Lucy) who are active; fun; young at heart and are truly amazing….. especially as you consider that the youngest woman, Fran, is 90 years old.
All together, these four women have over 360 years of life experience and the last several years have been “challenging” for them…. Loss of spouses and children, health illnesses, downsizing from large homes to the condos; navigating hospitals and having to accept the fact that their bodies will not function as well as they wish they could.
They speak frankly about death and loss but never…. never do you get a feeling of self-pity or a sense that they are defeated or have given up on enjoying life.
Over the past 5 years, Alice has lost her husband and two of her three children. Yet, this woman remains one of the most joyful women I have ever known. She travels and in the last year has been to Hawaii with her granddaughter; to the Seattle and Washington area for a family reunion; flew to New England for her younger sister’s 90th birthday.
She swims laps each morning in our neighborhood pool in the summer months. We are members of First Presbyterian Church and she attends the early service. As I am coming into church, I often see her sitting on a bench with a younger woman and I know Alice is mentoring her. Her eyes are always sparkling and you leave her presence in total awe of her ability to maintain such a positive spirit.
Fran is my across the driveway neighbor and, at age 90, is the youngest. She is a short spunky woman who is always laughing. I think she must be one of Santa’s elves. Fran delights in leaving you “gifts of joy”.
We have hooks on our garage door frame where the Homeowners’ Board leaves the monthly newsletter and other communications. At the various holidays, she will hang on the hook a small bag with a card—and usually some candy.
When I retired in March, she brought me a bottle of champagne. Four days after I announced my engagement, Fran was emailing me and wanted to have an engagement party for me and nine days later she hosted a champagne and dessert party.
She travels and went on a family reunion cruise this past year. She has a personal trainer come to her condo two days a week and they exercise. I think she exercises more in one week than I do in two weeks.
And then there is Irene. This summer, Irene had a dinner party for 18+ people. (I lost count as to how many were there!) She fixed appetizers including wonderful crabmeat appetizers; had a full service bar (she was in the kitchen cutting up lime slices for the drinks); had a fabulous seafood casserole and two side dishes; bread, wine; and dessert.
Her son and daughter helped her set up the tables and do some of the shopping but Irene fixed all the food. (I think her daughter may have made the dessert but Irene handled the rest.)
Let me say that again… she prepared all the food for the dinner party. Irene did this in spite of the fact that she has very painful back issues and often has to use a cane. She is always full of wisdom and wonderful advice. I truly enjoy being with her.
And last, but certainly not least, there is Lucy. Of the four women, Lucy is the only one who is not a widow. She and Cecil have been married for 72 years and Cecil is one of the kindest men I have ever met.
Lucy always looks fabulous—she wears stylish outfits and beautiful jewelry.
She is always checking on me. When I had my first foot surgery in 2010, I was able to drive myself home as they did the surgery under local anesthesia and the surgery boot was on my left foot. I pulled my car in the garage and had barely opened my car door when Lucy appeared and began asking me if I needed help getting out of the car. I assured her I could manage and then she asked if I wanted some cheese toast and a cup coffee.
Cheese toast? Did you say cheese toast? And coffee? Of course I wanted some. As I was on “bed-rest” (really sofa-rest) for the next three days, Lucy would bring me cheese toast every morning.
These four women always exhibit courage and grit and grace and you sense it whenever you are around them. They have taught me that age is merely a number and that I should cherish and enjoy each day of life….. that laughter and a sense of humor are essential weapons in facing the ups and downs of life….
.…..And that no matter your age, you can continue to live a rich and joy filled life…. but only if you choose to.
I hope to be just like them when I grow up.
Pictures from engagement party given by Fran: Janet and Don with balloon/ Irene and Lucy/ The Party Room/ Alice and the Elf (Fran)/ Janet and Fran/ Irene and Fran/ Alice and Don/ Fran and Lucy