“The ‘Fifties’ are the new ‘Thirties’” – Yesterday, as I was getting ready to take one of my daily walks from my home in Flower Mound to our neighborhood’s Rheudasil Park, I heard that new little catch-phrase on one of those upbeat morning shows, and it made me stop and think. It gave me something to ponder on my way through the neighborhood, down Forest Vista and into Rheudasil.
As I double knotted the orthotic tennis shoes I’ve worn since my foot surgery in July, I grabbed my jacket and headed out the door, anticipating the ritual of solitary ‘time to think’ that I have come to relish and rely on – down by the duck pond that is the center attraction at Rheudasil. Camera in hand, I snap pictures of young families, ‘kids of all ages’ fishing, dogs of all sizes and breeds walking their owners…and of course the always famished ducks and geese that make this ‘oasis in the suburbs’ their home.
Reflection … the face that stares up at me in the water as I walk over to feed the ducks, is my mother’s…and smiles at the idea of being 30 again…as I think about the young broadcasters who speak in clitchés without really knowing what it feels like to be 50.
There is a Great Heron fishing at the edge of the pond on the far side of the park next to the road where it stays muddy and people don’t spend too much time…I head that way for a better shot…and think about and wonder how much truth there is in what they are saying.
I pensively consider the “off-handed” remark and finally decide that yes, I can see that as a society, we are living longer and taking better care of ourselves. My daily constitutional is something started several years ago…since I turned 50, and I tell myself I am coming here to Rheudasil to feed the ducks…it’s Winter, and they didn’t migrate.
As I work my way over to the Great Heron, he nonchalantly looks up and notices me moving in his direction and turns to move another 20 yards further away, but he doesn’t fly away…there’s plenty of newly hatched minnows for a nice lunch of fish and mosquito larvae.
I look down at my cell phone to check the time, and see that Mario and Elvia have texted me about lunch and homework. I quickly take a picture on my cellphone of a little girl feeding a goose that is bigger than she is…and send it to them. With the advent of telecommunications and the internet… it has become easier to keep in touch with family and friends through social networking, and if you are so inclined, it is very possible to get what Mom calls “a second wind” late in life …when minds and bodies stay active, but you have to work at it a lot more.
There are some “undeniable” things that start happening as you grow older… the size 8 clothes you’ve worn all your life become uncomfortably snug, and funny enough, you find you don’t mind that you’ve moved into a 10 or even a 12. The ducks I’m feeding don’t mind what size I am, they are only interested in the bread I’ve brought. I secretly think some of them recognize me, as they move in towards the plastic bag full of crumbs. After 50, you visit the doctor more regularly, go to bed earlier and have no problem getting up earlier as nature calls and well…your biological clock is still ticking…counting down the days.
I talk to my 80 year old mother every morning, my 44 year old Downs Syndrome brother every evening, and my Dad every night before I go to bed. I speak to my son in Colorado, in college for the second time and sometimes feeling very “poor”, about how college is the only time in life where it is “fashionable to be poor” and about how “this too shall pass…” and then he’ll have to go back to work for a living!
My high school senior daughter is counting down the days to June 4 when she graduates from FMHS, and I wish I could make her see how crucial these last days are at home… and how she shouldn’t wish away one second of this life. The geese have followed me around the pond and cackle as I move in closer to the Heron…the giant stately bird looks up annoyed, and bends his long stately legs as he lowers himself down and spreads his wings to lift him up into the air and over the road to the other side of the bridge…I’ve missed him.
I should have thrown away the plastic bag before moving across the park…oh well, next time…gives me something to come back for tomorrow. We learn from our mistakes and our failures, we fly only after crashing to the ground looking for our wings.
After 50, mortality sets in and choices become more calculated; life is sweeter, richer and more vivid…I find that I am more patient, understanding and giving…and I realize that we are all (as my Mom has always said) “works in progress…” and God isn’t through with me yet! I’m older, yes…I’m better, absolutely.
My bag of bread is gone. The geese have left. The Great Heron is has flown away. It’s time to head home. I have come to the realization that my life is half over … or more? 50’s are the new 30’s? Would I go back? Not without all the knowledge and understanding I’ve gained in the last 20 years! I’ve earned the lines in my face and the joy and peace in my heart that let me share my thoughts and know that in today’s “fresh face” society, it is still okay to grow (gracefully, of course) old.
…And suddenly, the important question comes up out of my subconscious…”What will I do with what is left of my life?”