Aging

Faded

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Mia sat at her dressing table, staring into the mirror. She spent some time on each feature, remembering when it had all been so different.  Her hair, once a rich, deep brown, was faded and streaked with grey.  She had chosen not to color it. She knew she’d never keep up with the touch-ups, so it was better just to let nature take its course. She had noticed long ago that her once-abundant mane was thinning, but it wasn’t too bad yet. She kept it long so she could put it up, braid it, leave it down, as her mood dictated.

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Her eyebrows were patchy.  They had once been thick and heavy, and she had plucked and tweezed them into shape. They, too, had grey in them.

Her skin no longer held the shine, the glow, the dewy look of youth. She had always tried to take good care of her skin, but time and age were relentless.  She particularly disliked the puckery lines around her mouth.  She’d never been a smoker, but there they were anyway.  The natural color of her lips had faded, too, as well as the blush on her cheekbones.

Another  thing she  regretted was the saggy skin of her neck. She thought of turkey wattles.  Age surely was an anti-vanity thing. She had never been a raving beauty, but she had at least enjoyed some natural color in her face.

“Well,” she thought, “It is what it is.”  And she took a little time to moisturize, to fill in the patchy eyebrows with a dark pencil, to brush her cheeks with blush, to add a little color to her lips. She had learned, with makeup, that less is better as a woman ages. She didn’t use liquid foundation any more. Just a light dusting of facial powder to even things out.

Finished, she put her things away. It was only when she stood up and turned toward the closet that she realized her husband had been watching her. She smiled, enjoying his simple presence in the room, and the look of admiration in his eyes.

“You know, Mia, you’ll always be beautiful to me.  And your eyes will never change.  Those gorgeous violet eyes that first drew me to you still have the same effect. You make my heart speed up, you know?”

Mia laughed. “Guess I’d better be careful how often I look at you, then. We don’t want your heart to be overworked these days!”

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A Lesson

Culture

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“A person of culture would never behave in such a manner,” sniffed Miss Sarah. She swept her two little charges away from what she considered a spectacle, not wanting their young minds to be contaminated by the people or what they were doing.

Little Nan, however, was displeased. She was fascinated by  the activity she’d glimpsed as Miss Sarah pulled them away, and she wanted to see more.

“No!  Miss Sarah, I want to see!” she insisted, pulling hard to remove her hand from that of her governess.  Nan was a child who generally got her own way, and this time was no different from all the others.  Miss Sarah was appalled, and struggled to keep Nathaniel’s hand in hers as she followed the running Nan back toward the show.

Nan was enthralled.  A small stage had been set up, and there were two puppets being managed by strings.  Nan knew how marionettes worked, and she was quite impressed with the ones filling her gaze now.  They struggled back and forth, the male figure bopping the female over the head, and both of them yelling at each other.

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Nan looked behind her, knowing Miss Sarah would be nearby. She saw the look of distaste on Miss Sarah’s face and felt just a little guilty for a moment, but the show was so entertaining that she soon recovered. Other spectators were laughing and making comments in favor of one puppet or the other, and when it was over they all clapped for a long time.  Money was tossed into a kettle on the ground, and people went their different ways, laughing and joking about what they had seen.

Miss Sarah took Nan’s hand again, not saying a word and showing her displeasure clearly on her expressive face.

“Miss Sarah?  Are you angry with me?”

“I’m very disappointed in you, young lady.  You not only disobeyed me, but you actually stood amongst all those common people and watched that vulgar performance, and you enjoyed it!”

“But Miss Sarah, it was funny!  It was just silly puppets. Real people don’t behave that way!”

“Oh, Nan.  You have a great deal to learn about the way people really are. Some of those–men–I won’t call them gentlemen—will go home and feel free to strike their wives. They may even believe it’s the right thing to do. Or they will find it amusing.  Would you like to know that your papa would strike your dear mama?”

Nan was thoughtful and quiet for several seconds. “Well, no. No, I would be very upset if that happened. It really isn’t funny, is it? “

“No, indeed, Nan. Never forget that.  People of culture do not behave in such a low manner. You are a lady, and you must never think or act in an unladylike manner.”

Nan thought that over. “Is that going to be my lesson on deportment for today, Miss Sarah?  Please?”

Miss Sarah looked at Nan’s serious face, and nodded in agreement.  “Yes, I believe so, Nan.”

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Don’t Take it for Granted

Vigor

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Vigor.  Strength, energy, enthusiasm, stamina.

I’m going to whine a little bit, because I’m fighting the urge to let myself slide into the black hole of depression.  Let me tell you, forced inactivity is no fun. Each day that passes in which I don’t move around much reduces my vigor by a little bit more, draining me of energy and vitality. Draining me even of the desire to get up and get moving.

So I move as much as I can, until I feel that little hitch in my git-along that tells me I’d better watch it.

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I never thought I’d grow weary with reading, or watching Christmas movies on TV.

I am.  I have.

I can’t go down the basement steps to work on a project I wanted to have done for Christmas.  Terry is still carrying the load of my work:  cooking, shopping, laundry, cleaning. I love him for being so willing, but I hate it that he has to.

Last night I dreamed that I was able to get through a normal day without ticking off that little demon in my back.  I washed, cleaned, cooked, even went to my office–all in one day. And I wasn’t tired.

How sad to wake up and know it wasn’t true.

If you have vigor, and are able to do pretty much whatever you want to do, be thankful. Age and time can take that away sooner than you think.

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Waiting

Liminal

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Liminal.  What an interesting word.  Yes, I had to look it up.  I like it when I have to look up a word, because I’m increasing my vocabulary.

We are in a liminal state in American government right now. This is the so-called “Lame Duck” period, between the election of a new President and his inauguration.  During this period, the sitting President traditionally pardons criminals of his choice. He may try to push through some legislation that he knows won’t be supported by the incoming President.  He can cause a lot of trouble, or he can be gracious.

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The incoming President is busy during this liminal period, putting his cabinet together and having endless meetings to shape  his coming time in the Oval Office–which, I understand, is being renovated and won’t be available right away.

The word comes from the Latin limen, meaning threshold. It is often used to describe the period between fading life and  oncoming death, a transition period, a time of waiting.

We actually have many liminal periods as we travel through life. These are common to all of us; I’m thinking of the pre-teen eagerly waiting to be a teenager, to get a driver’s license, to be allowed to date, to go to high school and then on to college or a career. I’m thinking of the waiting period between an engagement and a wedding.  The long wait between confirmation of pregnancy and the birth of the baby.  There are more, like waiting for that first grandchild.  Liminal.  On the threshold.  Transitioning from one place or period of time to another.

All of life is like that, really, isn’t it?  Waiting.

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Home

Sated

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Reenie pushed  back from the table, sated but not stuffed to the point of discomfort. It had been a superb meal, with every dish cooked to perfection and served beautifully. While the  kids helped clear the table and leftovers were put away to be enjoyed another day, Reenie sat lost in thought.

So many holiday meals. So much delectable food over the course of her long life. She’d never had trouble keeping her weight under control. She’d been active, busy, fulfilled. So a meal like the one she had just enjoyed left no guilty aftertaste.

As she reached for her cane, one of her sons came to her chair. “Are you ready to get up, Mom?  Let me walk you into the family room. Your comfortable chair is waiting for you. Do you feel a nap coming on?”

“You know, that does sound good.   I feel I should help clean up, but I was told in no uncertain terms that I just need to rest.”  She laughed, enjoying her status as the privileged elder who was no longer welcomed into the  clearing up process.

As she settled into the recliner that fit her so well,  her son pulled an afghan up over her legs. “Do you need anything else, Mom? Ready for a nap?”

“Thank you, I’m fine.  I’ll just rest a few minutes, and then I’ll be ready when it’s time to play a game.”

As her eyes closed, she smiled with pleasure when she felt the little dog that belonged to her family jump up into her lap.  The dog curled up, enjoying having his ears scratched, and soon they were  both asleep.

At least, Reenie thought she was sleeping. To her amazement,  people she had known and loved began to appear in her mind’s eye.  Her grandparents, her mother and dad!  What on earth were they doing here?  They smiled at her and seemed to beckon her to join them. They looked so real, she felt sure she could have reached out and touched them.

The baby she had lost, the one she had never seen.  It had been so early in the pregnancy that there was no little face to remember, but she knew this was her child. Knew it as sure as she knew the ones who had lived and thrived and given her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And now here was Frank; dear, beloved Frank. Married for nearly 60 years, it had broken her heart when he’d left her with no warning, his heart just giving in to the pressure of time and age.  Yet here he was, holding out his arms to her, and she wanted desperately to go.

It was time, after all. She was 98 years old, and she was tired. Her body was no longer the strong, healthy body she had taken such good care of. Her heart, she was sure, was even more tired than Frank’s had been.

Yes, she was ready. It was sad to leave all her loved ones here, but she knew they would reunite in heaven someday. She found herself rising weightlessly from her chair, growing excited as everything around her receded into the past. She stretched out her hand and felt it taken by a hand she didn’t recognize until she looked up into the face of  her beloved Savior.  “Jesus!  Oh, Jesus!”

She didn’t feel the hand that gently shook her shoulder.  She didn’t hear the  urgency of the voice that called “Mom?  Mom!”  She didn’t see the family gather as they realized she had left them.

She was Home.

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The Waiting is the Best Part

Anticipation

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There are many things a child anticipates, and I’m using the word with a totally positive connotation here.  Most kids look forward to the first day of going to school.  It is a hallmark of their long trek to maturity, although they don’t see it in those words.  To most kids, it’s just proof that they’re not a little kid any more. They go to SCHOOL!

We anticipated birthdays with great hope, sometimes satisfied and sometimes not, but the anticipation of the event was always exciting. Another year older to prove yet again that we are no longer little kids.

Summer vacation?  Oh, you bet!  I loved school, but I loved summer more. I don’t remember ever being disappointed in summer when I was a kid.

Of course I anticipated falling in love, marriage, children, and now grandchildren. It’s a wonderful life. I also, most days, look forward with anticipation to to different kinds of work God has led me to.

There were Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the new year, with the first big day coming on February 14 when we eagerly anticipated getting a bagful of valentine cards.  And all these special days filled our heads as we slept and dreamed; they filled our awake hours with high hopes, and in my case, those hopes were generally fulfilled.

I loved Thanksgiving because of the friends, family, food and fun.  Christmas?  Same thing, only presents, too. And in my house, God was the center of those two holidays. I’ve always loved the story of the first Thanksgiving.  I find it both grievous and  infuriating that our revisionist historians these days are doing their best to take the shine off America’s first years, even to the point of a college removing the American flag because some arrogant young people say  it represents violence and terrorism.  What a slap in the face to all those who have fought and died to preserve our freedom to fly that flag!

I would challenge these folks to find me one single nation in the history of the world that has NOT been guilty of violence at some point in its history. But that’s not what this post is about.

I still anticipate these special days today, at age 69.  It’s different now, more settled, more peaceful, perhaps more realistic. I am still thankful for family, friends, food, and fun. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

I am thankful, on this Thanksgiving eve, for all the ways God has led me through my life to this point,  and I’m truly anticipating the rest of the journey as it comes closer to its end, because the greatest anticipation of all is to see my Savior.  That’s what will make it heaven.

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It’s all in the Prefix

Elicit

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This is one of those words that gets mixed up often with another:  In this case, illicit.

Elicit is a verb. Illicit is an adjective.

You elicit laughter from an audience when you tell a good joke. To sell drugs, however, is illicit.

It’s all in the prefix. Ill- always indicates  that which is not right, not legal, not applicable. Illegal, for instance, or illegitimate.

Elicit, on the other hand, starts with a prefix that means out or out of. The beginning e is derived from the Latin ex, out, as in exit.  So it means to draw out. 

And here’s a sentence that may confuse things even further: ” His leadership elicited illicit behavior on the part of his followers.”

And there you have your grammar lesson for the day.  I know how happy that makes you 🙂

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