My next door neighbor to our right is an 81-year-old woman, her name is Virginia. She lives alone, got divorced in the 80’s and never re-married. Virginia is a very active lady. There is a treadmill in the middle of her TV room and she walks on it every day.
“I have to walk at least 3 miles a day to stay in shape,” she says. She is very independent, still works in her yard and only allows others to help her, when things are too heavy or too bulky. She tries to shovel snow now and then, but we don’t let her. We, the neighbors and her kids, got our foot down -for the first time.
She had her share of health issues. She is a cancer survivor, she had heart problems and a few surgeries. She loves her new hip, “It’s better than the old one.” She will show you the scare on her chest and you can see the pacemaker box under her skin. “That thing keeps me ticking,” she laughs. Last year she was bored and decided she didn’t just want to sit at home, so she went out and took a part-time job in a realtor’s office. “I answer the phone for a couple of hours, read a book and get paid for it.” 3 times a week she goes and plays Bridge with her gentleman friend. “We are friends only,” she says and I always grin. Her outside matches her inside. She is always nicely dressed, still colors her blonde hair and wears light make up. I know she has bad days too, but she never complains. Her son lets me know, then I cook for her, “I cooked too much again,” is my excuse, when I bring her a container.
My neighbor to the other side is Susan. She is 66 years old, married to her high school sweetheart and a poster child for the word Grandmother. She loves here children and her grandchildren and she will tell you about them, any chance she gets. She sits at home all day long and doesn’t have any hobbies. They drive to church on Sunday and she goes shopping during the week, but that’s pretty much the only time she leaves her house. Her husband does everything around their house, “He is in better shape,” she explains and she is right.
Her second favorite thing to talk about are her health problem. There is always something wrong with her. She has type II diabetes and is on medication. “There is no other way,” she says and she will explain in lengths, why she is overweight and why she really can’t exercise. I think she loves being sick because it gives her something to talk about it. Her outside matches somehow. She wears elastic pants and wide blouses. Her hair is a beautiful silver gray, but the cut is old-fashioned. She is overweight -at least by 50 pounds- but she doesn’t want to go on a diet. “I am too old for that,” she says and she believes it. Susan is a very sweet lady, we all help her as much as we can.
A few days after I got diagnosed with a serious illness I talked with Virginia -the older one- on the fence line. I complained quite a bit that day. Life just wasn’t fair and I felt cheated. “Why me?” and I went on and on. Then I told her about the challenges that I had ahead of me and I talked about my plan to beat it all.
She smiled and gave me a pet on my shoulder. “Good girl,” she said and that’s a compliment coming from her.
“Get rid of the BMW,” she said and I didn’t know what to say.
She is older and maybe she doesn’t know what car I drive. I wish I would own a BMW, but I don’t.
“Why would I get rid of a BMW?” I asked and she laughed.
“BMW stands for bitching, moaning and whining,” she explained to me. “None of that will help you. Bite the bullet, do what you have to do and have a positive attitude.” That’s the advice she gave me.
So, I have two older ladies living beside me, who couldn’t be any more different. The younger one is indeed a BMW and the older one is a tough cookie.
Watching both of them has tough me a lot. It showed me, that the way I will be aging is totally up to me. I can accept it and embrace it and make the best out of it, or I will end up being a BMW myself.
Aging is a privilege, not a right!
I decided to get rid of the BMW.
What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?