Beautiful Old People

Cherie - Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Entered on June 12, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, humanism

This I believe – getting old is beautiful. And I say this with authority, coming from a family of very old ladies. In my first forty-one years, I’ve watched my grandmothers and their sisters celebrate birthdays in their 80’s and 90’s; for a few of them, we’re getting ready to call the Today Show.

Some people might wonder what’s so great about getting old – especially when so many spend time trying to look and act years younger than they really are. Like them, I haven’t always embraced aging. It wasn’t until recently that I looked the beauty of it in the eyes; my Grandma’s eyes.

It was her 90th birthday, which we celebrated by visiting my Dad at his nursing home, located just down the street from the assisted living facility my Grandma now calls home. Looking at the two of them – mother and son – sitting side-by-side, I was able to see them as they really are. At 65 years old, he is quite sick, and scars from nine years of many chronic illnesses have taken their toll. At the age of 90, she is still stunning; her only scars are the worry for her ailing son, clear in her cloudy green eyes.

It was at that moment I decided that getting old looks pretty good, especially when compared with the alternative. But it wasn’t just longevity that I found attractive. Rather, it was the perspective a person achieves when living into their 10th decade. What I’ve learned from my grandmothers, and what became very clear to me on my youngest Grandma’s 90th birthday is this: there isn’t enough time to do everything we’d like, and we shouldn’t expect anything during the time we do have. Even when we are 90, we should understand that our children may not outlive us. Still, we should keep them close and assure them that everything will be okay, even if we find our own sadness overwhelming. I believe that getting old is beautiful because the strongest among us are those who’ve lived long enough to realize the joy that comes from putting our loved ones first.