A Cup of Coffee - Opinion: Are we old yet?

Linda Tate

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Linda TatePhoto credit, Will Guttormsen

Over the weekend, my husband and I took a long drive. As I stared out the window, I started thinking about my gray hair. I’ve made peace with my hair. I’ve decided to let it grow in however that looks, and not dye it. I smiled internally, visualizing myself with a head of “wisdom hairs“, and felt very comfortable with the changes my body was going through.

At 58, I wondered out loud to my husband. “What season are we in?” Before he could answer me, I said, “My older friends are at the beginning of their Winter season, and their parents are in their late Winter season. My younger friends are in the Summer of their lives, getting engaged, married, and having babies…and the children of my younger friends are in the Spring of their lives…new to this realm…freshly born, and pure of heart. I feel like I’m in the season of Fall. Late Fall, headed into early Winter“.

He didn’t answer me, but simply reached over and put his hand on my knee, gently patting me.

I returned to my thoughts, and then, as an afterthought, offered up a feeble, “I’m not a tree without leaves, but I don’t have all my leaves anymore…I’m kind of in the middle…one leaf drifting off here and there…”

Isn’t that just the truth? I can remember every single stage of my life. Being young, pretending to be fast asleep and feeling my dad lift me out of the back seat of the car and carry me into the house. I thought he was the strongest man in the world. Standing on my little stool in the kitchen, carefully filling my pie crust with delicious apples, copying every single move my mama made, hoping I looked just like her.

Being a teenager and fearing the bullies at school, yet cherishing my best friends as sisters and brothers in my desire to fit in somewhere…anywhere. Football games, Homecoming dances, the dreaded showers in PE, testing for my driver’s license…angst.

Graduating from high school and getting my first job away from my parent’s home business. Buying a car, and feeling so grown up. Placing my brick of a cell phone against my ear, telling mama I made it to work safely.

Turning 21, getting married, and moving away from home. Having two babies and looking into their eyes at their 2 am feedings, wondering if this was how my mama felt when she fed me in the middle of the night. Exhausted, but so full of love and wonderment that I could have given birth to such a lovely creature. It seemed surreal.

Experiencing a number of traumas, a traumatic brain injury from a car accident, divorce, and assault, being among them, all those traumas turned for the good when I retrained my brain and went to college to begin my career in mental health, finding the courage to be a single mom, and surviving that which at the time seemed unsurvivable. Finding my strength as a woman, firmly stepping into adulthood for maybe the first time in my life because you see, there’s a difference between feeling grown and actually being grown.

My season of experiencing a career. Being promoted, demoted, fired, then valued once again. FInding eventual success in the field and transitioning from mental health to Communications Director for the foundation.

Revisiting my relationship with my husband, 30 years after we last saw each other, and moving from my country cow pasture to the bright lights of New York City…leaving behind everything I’d ever known. Moving back home with him a year later and caring for my parents as they left this world.

At this point in time, I visualized myself, a woman entering her golden years…standing up, pushing stray strands of hair away from my face, and saying, “I’m tired…I need rest“… then I wiped my hands on my apron and dropped down into my rocking chair, begging my children for grandbabies.

I never once, resented my age. Not at any of those junctures. I was so busy living in the now, that I didn’t realize my life was passing me by. What a shock as I sat in the passenger seat of our car this weekend, with the understanding that my father was right. As he lay in his bed, knowing he had hours left to live, he grabbed my hand and said, “You will one day be where I am…it will happen sooner than you could possibly imagine. Live your life to the absolute fullest. It all goes by SO quickly!“.

At this point in my life, the only thing that matters to me is my family, and being of service to my community. Loving those that come into my sphere as best I know how to do, and for those who would cause those same loved ones any grief, well, I’ve earned my gray hairs and the opinions that go with them. I can be fierce when I perceive a lack of justice or an intentioned attack on their characters.

The great thing about coming into the last half of your life is that you simply don’t care what others think of you anymore. You’ve proven all you’re going to prove. It’s time to “just be” and allow the winds of change to have their way. There’s a great joy in not having to be right all the time and freedom in having the ability to continue to learn, regardless of age. You know you’ve reached this point when you can easily say, “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right…I was wrong“, and not feel the heat of embarrassment on your cheeks.

Love who you are, where you are, right now. For every single experience that you perceived as uncomfortable, there was another experience that you perceived as comforting, and you would never have known the difference were it not for the times of trial.

Forgive as many times as it takes to find your peace, and don’t allow anyone to steal your happiness or quiet your voice. Stand outside of your emotions, as if watching TV, and look at the situation with the eye of a patron at the theater. What a show that was, eh? It’s over now and you needn’t watch it again unless you wish to. Letting go is finding your nirvana.

Life doesn’t come with any training manuals or guarantees, and there is no such thing as perfect safety. The joy is in finding yourself amongst all the chaos, all the imperfection, all the stubbornness, and the impulsive words, still standing, blazing in a flame of glory, softened by the hands of time, and ready to take on the next phase of your life, whatever phase that may be, to learn and to teach, until your last breath.

We are all amazing if we would just take a moment to consider it. Enjoy your life, whatever season you may be in. Treat each day as a gift to be unwrapped and marveled over, inviting all that is good into your world of abundance.

That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.

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I am the Communications Director for the Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation. A Cup of Coffee is a health and wellness blog that can sometimes be very humorous. We hope you enjoy the blog as much as I enjoy writing it. Feel free to view our page at www.nwosteo.org

Canby, OR
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