Growing up is hard to do. It involves so much more than physical changes. At least, it is supposed to be more than a physical change.
The advantages of growing older are quickly embraced early on. What 16 year old ever prefers his bike to a car? Then he longs to be 25 so his auto insurance rates will drop.
But what milestone is anticipated with glee thereafter? Who turns 30 joyfully, or 40 or . . . .
When we gain wisdom, no youthful energy or beauty appears more valuable than that wisdom, usually gained at great cost. The Eastern cultures have respected the oldest among them for millenniums and seek their sage advice. It is only lately in the West that we give any deference to age, perhaps due to our aging populace.
Many years ago my mother said something I have never forgotten. 'I still feel 18,' she said wistfully, 'and then I look in the mirror and see this old woman.' I have thought about those words and the emotion I heard behind them so often. We are all free spirits at some deep level, just housed in different casements.
Once we have reached maturity, if we are true to form, we become far more, not less, beautiful. One very beautiful mature soul was Harry Paxson. Harry Paxson died last month in Chesapeake in his ninth decade. I doubt there was a more beloved man than Harry. I never saw Harry without feeling like I brightened his day, as everyone felt with Harry. He was a glowing light of love which eclipsed all physical deterioration.
The body changes on the outside in one direction, and on the inside in another. Maybe we should acknowledge the beauty inside in our seniors as readily as we acknowledge the exterior beauty in our juniors.
I remember my mother as a young woman with a spirit to match her fiery red hair. She was always dressed up, heels and hose, with her dignity in place. Today, at 82, she wears slacks and walking shoes more often than skirts and heels and her hair is white.
This summer, her granddaughters visited. They like to play 'hunt' with their grandmother. Out the door, down the hall, and up the stairs they ran, as only 13 year olds can do, right? Wrong. Right behind them raced Grammie Kay.
Age is just a number. Spirit is ageless.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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