A 105-year old vivacious lady once told me that the secret to having a happy aging was not being encumbered by family. Instead she cultivated male and female friends who were much younger than she was and found they kept her challenged and engaged.
Family certainly keeps us challenged in every sense of the word. My husband and I have a full life, sometimes too full with our part-time jobs, travel and friends, and then the family issues. My 90-year old parents, still living independently, are starting to struggle with health issues and the logistics of staying in their home. My sisters and I know that when they must move, it will be crisis management on our part, since my mother declares that the only way she is leaving her house is in an urn. We honor their independence, but find that better health care decisions could be made if they were more savvy and assertive with providers. That won’t happen, so we dance around issues to try to improve their care.
Our son and daughter-in-law have busy lives and keep our darling granddaughters way too scheduled to spend time with us, something that distresses us deeply.
Then there are the health scares and threats to our generation, especially my sisters, without whom I would be lost. Two of us have had cancer twice, and now a third may be battling something worse.
Herein lies the challenge of living well: being concerned but also paying attention to the joys that surround us and making sure we communicate that joy to those we care about. Although trite to say, this message bears repeating: we have but one life to live. Live it grandly and with joy. Don’t miss the daily gifts we are given while caring for those around us. And laugh. Laugh long and lustily. Joyous noise that is contagious.