Growing Old Gracefully: Let Your Spirit Carry You…

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 04 - Sept 6 2011 - Evelyn Baxter photo - best

A post by photographer and writer Barb Mayer:

It’s somehow fitting that the oldest woman I have had the privilege of befriending has taught me the secret of being eternally young.

At 95 Evelyn no longer feels the need to impress or  the need to modify her appearance to please others.

Advancing age has brought with it a new sense of freedom. “If it hasn’t killed me yet, I’m not going to worry about it,” is her justification for eating the rich chocolate cake sitting in front of her, though she recently learned she has borderline diabetes.

In her early 80s she lost her partner of fifty years to cancer. Though she went through a period of mourning, she didn’t drown in her sorrows.

She took a trip to Hawaii with her family and learned a new sport – surfing. Her son and granddaughter, buffeted and bruised by the waves, quickly gave up. Evelyn persevered and, much to her delight, managed to stand up on the board, feeling the freedom of the waves draw her into the shore.

Her memory is not what it used to be, and I know it’s a subject she doesn’t like to talk about. If she can’t find something in the kitchen, she invariably blames her son. “He’s always moving things on me,” she states accusingly, and I flash her an empathetic look that says… yes, men are like that, aren’t they?

When she tells me the same story she has told me for the last three days, I listen intently, as though it were the first time. I know that the telling gives her great pleasure and I enjoy listening to anecdotes of a life lived before television, before cars and before cell phones.

We no longer do aerobics together at the senior center. Her sense of balance is starting to fail and the long walks we used to take together have become dramatically shorter. But her enthusiasm for life remains unabated.

The other day we sat around her kitchen table and, brush in hand, she gave me pointers on the art of watercolor painting, a hobby she took up in her mid 60s.

Though her body is beginning to fail, her zest for life has remained intact. In the four short years I have known her, she has taught me a valuable lesson.

No matter how far along you are on the path of life, when you let your spirit carry you, it’s possible to grow old gracefully and happily.

Barb

Barb Mayer is an award-winning photographer and freelance writer who enjoys creating works to inspire and enlighten. Her latest project combines photography with music and inspirational quotes (click here to view The Poetry of the Earth and she is an occasional contributor to the anthologies of  June Cotner.

She loves spending quiet time writing and gardening in her small country house near Rome, Italy.  Her time in the States is spent traveling and visiting family and friends. You may contact Barb and learn more about her writing and photography at her web site: www.barbmayer.com.

In the top photo, Evelyn is sporting her favorite pair of Italian shoes. The photo was taken by Barb.

9 responses »

  1. I’ve got a neighbor who turned 98 two weeks ago and a whole group of us took her to lunch. She is absolutely amazing, beautiful, funny, active (although a walker helps now and then!) I love her stories, especially of growing up and all the antics they used to do and getting into trouble. 🙂 My mother-in-law is 94+ and still lives in her own home, although some broken bones two years ago really slowed her down – we finally have someone going in for a few hours each morning to make sure she’s eating, taking meds, etc. She hates the fuss! She is so stubborn and independent, and totally sharp still. 🙂

    • I could listen to Evelyn’s stories for hours. In fact, I’ve been recording a lot of them for posterity. I think the main reason she is still so active and involved in life is the fact that she has so many friends and family members who come to visit. She’s surrounded by people of all different age groups and loves the company.

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