Life begins at 80: Part 2

Ruth Chamberlin

Nothing happens, nothing happens, then everything happens.” (Anonymous.) Since turning 80, I find this true. Changes get started behind curtains, hide for a while, then sneak up one day and say, “Boo!” Sometimes you giggle at “Boo!” Other times, not so much. I emailed friends and relatives over 80 and asked about changes in their lives.

• • •

• “I forget more things so I make lists and then I can’t find my lists.”

• “It is a good thing we are in the car together because sometimes I forget what we need to do next, or he forgets, and so we help each other.”

• “So much new technology … We, at 80, find our brain and fingers cannot keep up. I do have a cell phone and iPad, and desktop computer, able to just ‘get along’ mostly.”

• “I am grateful for my kindle and my computer screen with enlarged print, so I can read and correspond with my dear friends.”

• “As a younger person I had a view of the world that was somewhat naïve. I thought the Civil Rights Movement, along with a number of other ‘progressive’ groups, would bring my country and more of the world to a better place. What I see today are so many steps backward. … Still I send the emails, make the phone calls, serve on committees that are trying to make positive changes but I’m more aware than ever of the precarious balance we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Lest I sound too grim, I find there is still much to enjoy after 80. For me, much of it is connected to nature, the chipmunk who runs across my deck, the hummingbirds visiting my flowers, a special light on the hills across the bay — this and so much more can stop me in my tracks. For these blessings and more, I am a grateful 82-year-old version of an old lady.”

• “My energy levels are not the same and I do miss that. I get tired at night, and I don’t want to take on extra projects during the day.”

• “Energy does not always match one’s motivation … It takes longer to recover.”

• “While yes I can forget names places and what I did yesterday and what I’m supposed to do today, the loves of all kinds have deepened: for God, family, for neighbors and my country. And yes my gratitude for all the love and support for those that went before. May I too through God’s most loving hands stay connected with what matters most: a happy and grateful heart!”

• “I’ve been asked what it feels like to be 80 — not much difference other than giving myself permission to nap :) …”

• “A month or two ago I faced a major change that I am finding difficult to accept — difficulty memorizing the lyrics (for a stage production). No matter how much time I gave to the project of memorizing, I realized I had to drop out of the production. So now I am wondering if this means I never get to walk onstage again in a play or musical. This is a lifelong adventure I will truly miss.”

• “I was so excited to have a great grandchild until I realized that it made my daughter a grandma and that was a shock.” 

• “After mother changed worlds we sisters were going through desk and drawers of papers including, of all things, our report cards from first grade, on. What was incredible for me to read was how ‘very shy’ I was — and this was over several years. Now being age 86, can say I don’t feel any different than 80 years ago. Still feel ‘very shy‘ when asked to write, or speak, about anything. Didn’t have any aches or pains at age 6, 74 or even now, at 86, but am still ‘very shy’! PS — I may not appear ‘very shy’ but that is the way I feel inside.”

• “I have quit shopping for clothes, thinking that what I have will ‘see me out,’ but sometime I am going to have to get a few more, they are getting pretty worn.”

• “Our biggest challenge is to get rid of stuff. We have accumulated too many things for all these years. It is so hard to throw things away. I have told (husband) that if we die before we get rid of things, our kids will come and get us and say, ‘Get back here and clean up all this junk!’”

• “R being on the ending phase of r journey here… and all r gathered ‘treasures,’ which by the way r bursting the walls of r wee abode, never-the-less, r off spring have assured us that as they bid fare well, they will bring in a dumpster & from the windows toss the treasures!”  • “Personally, I’ve lamented the loss of height with the gravity pull on my spine (measurements say I’ve lost 3-4 inches in height) with resulting muscle/nerve problems, loss of muscle mass and muscle tone. (Flab???? Haha!) 

• “Yesterday we went to my 62nd high school reunion. We had such a good time with an open mike for about 3 hours. Sadly there are many who can no longer come to the reunions, but those who came had a wonderful time. Many who didn’t come are recuperating from surgeries, are taking care of an impaired spouse, or too old to drive. One classmate said she was too old looking to come. How sad is that. I told them the old joke of a woman in a nursing home who decided she would try streaking (back when that was the rage). She stripped off her clothes and ran down the hall. Two old men saw her and one said, ‘Was that Mabel?’ The other said, ‘Yes I think it was, but what was she wearing?’ The other one said, ‘I don’t know, but whatever it was it sure needed ironing!’”

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