Tag Archives: aging

Joy and Pain

“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour.  With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.”  ~Charles Dickens

I had the great joy of attending my niece’s high school graduation in North Carolina this weekend. It was great to see her celebrate her achievements with family and friends. I smiled as I saw the pride on my brother and sister-in-law’s faces while they watched their girl enter the auditorium and later take her walk across the stage. It was bittersweet for me because Jordan is the first grandchild on my side of the family to finish high school and because I began to think about next year, of course, when my Jacob will graduate. I also had the great privilege of spending time with my parents and my two grandmothers, Granny Hobbs and Grandma Nell, ages 93 and 91, respectively. It was a weekend of great joy and sorrow for me.

I realize that there are not many 42 year old women out there who are fortunate enough to still have their grandmas here on earth. Two great ladies. Each awesome in her own way. I was reminded ever too harshly of the reality of their ages this weekend. Grandma Nell had a total knee replacement last May at age 90, and was a total rock star. She lives alone and does remarkably well, considering she is almost totally blind now as a result of macular degeneration. Since December, my Granny Hobbs, who is my Dad’s mom and also lives alone and has done remarkably well, has declined rapidly.

Granny Hobbs was raised, from what I understand, by a harsh father and mother who I know very little about. In fact, she rarely speaks of it. Granny Hobbs was a single mom before it was cool. It was not by her choice—World War II deprived her son of his father, something else she rarely speaks of. When my dad was a small boy, she moved away from the town where her in-laws and family lived, and worked her butt off to keep a roof over their heads. She says moving to the beach is the best thing she ever did. She raised an amazing son and with very little outside help from one of her brothers, saw my dad graduate high school and college. In addition to my dad, she has raised countless numbers of plants and cats.

She gives away nearly everything she buys, because she thought about you when she saw it. She always has lollipops, soda, $5, or some other trinket, for her great-grandkids. Everyone who knows her calls her Granny Hobbs. Up until this summer, for the past umpteen summers, she has worked in a little beach shop down at Carolina Beach, NC, to which, she drove herself, just for some spending money. And if you ever ask her if she needs anything, she just laughs and says, “Oh, I’m alright.” And then gives you the box of muffins she bought the other day that she decided she didn’t like.

She is the one who, when I was a young girl, and her only granddaughter, insisted I say, “yes, ma’am” or else she would not respond to me further. She is the one who would call me by both my names, even if she was not mad. She is the one who would examine my chewed up fingernails and offer me a bribe if, the next time she saw me, my nails were looking, well, less chewed on. She is the one who would buy me pink dresses until I hated the color so much I refused to wear it for years. She is the one who nearly made my mom’s head pop off when she brought my brothers and me a dog…without asking Mom first. She is the one who would say to me, as a teenager (please keep in mind her generation), “You’re not dating any colored boys, are you? You need to make sure you hang on to that Clyn boy. He’s a good one!” To which I would respond (keep in mind my generation and snarky nature), “What color do you mean, Granny Hobbs?”

Suddenly now, the vibrant, fiercely independent, sharp-as-a-tack, lady I’ve known all my life is slipping away. Oh, she is still feisty. But she occasionally looks lost and loses time and place. She may not make sense and she is visibly distressed when she doesn’t recognize where she is. What makes it so hard to watch is that afterwards, when she is lucid, she realizes that she was confused before. And she hates it. She hates not being able to drive anymore. She hates having to rely on others for help. She hates that she just can’t quite reach into her brain and retrieve that word she is trying to say. And though I know aging is part of this life, I hate to see it happening to her. I hate to see how it frustrates her.

It hurts. It hurt when we watched my father-in-law slipping away and the hurt doesn’t seem less even though I’ve experienced it before.

In spite of it all, she is the one who still laughs easily, loves fiercely and gives freely. She is one awesome lady who chooses to live in the now and gives people the benefit of the doubt.Jacob and Emma with Granny Hobbs, Christmas 2010

She is also the one, who, when asked how she is doing, responds in her Southern drawl, “Oh, I’m doin’ alright. I cain’t complain. I woke up this mornin’ and didn’t see my name in the paper, so I reckon I’m purty good.”

I reckon I’ve got nothing to complain about either. Love you, Granny Hobbs.

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Filed under Family

Fun Facts About Forty

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”  ~Chili Davis

It has arrived.  The day upon which I embark on a little adventure I like to call

“Holy Crap I’m Forty”. 


Seriously, it is a very difficult concept for me to wrap my brain around.  How can this be?  Why, just last week, I was 21, right?? Or so it seemed.

Somebody once said forty is the new 30. Frankly, 30 kinda freaked me out, so I’m gonna say that 40 is the new 29.  Call it denial if you would like.  I can be okay with that.

Just roll with me here.

I wish I could flail my arms in the air and say “Yippee, I’m 40!”  But honestly, at this point in time, the main thing I’m feeling is, well, pretty flabulous.  And if I flailed my flabulous arms, anyone in my vicinity might be seriously injured, so we’ll just skip that!  I am very out of shape.  I’m moderately stressed. And by golly, the economy is nothing, if not uncertain.  So what’s a girl, er, middle-aged woman, to do?

Here are some things I’ve noticed of late:

  • Recently, I have found some disturbingly random hairs growing inappropriately on my forehead…that is to say, somewhere in the space above my eyebrows and below my hairline, I’m having to pluck.  Something’s just wrong about that.  Thank God for tweezers is all I can say.
  • Things creak when I get out of bed or walk up the stairs.  Sadly, it is neither the floor nor the stairs which is creaking.
  • I don’t remember the last time the lady at the grocery store carded me when I came through the line with my bottle of Pinot Grigio.
  • I say a lot of things my mom used to say to me that I swore I’d never say. (i.e., “Because I said so”,  “I’m not every one else’s mom”)
  • I won’t give you the details, but my “cycle” has begun to change significantly.  I even think I had a hot flash yesterday.  Not kidding.
  • I have to break out the 1.00 magnifiers occasionally and keep a pair in my purse and by my bed.

On the other hand, there are some things, that come along with being in your teens, 20s and 30s, that I’d just as soon not have to endure again:

  • Making reallllllly dumb decisions due to being young and naive
  • Dating
  • Planning a wedding…boy, would I do A LOT of things differently (I’d keep the same sweet guy though!)
  • Childbirth (Adore my precious ones, but wouldn’t want to do it again)
  • Learning how to deal with passive aggressive people
  • Learning that people are always going to judge you
  • Learning that people are always going to give you unsolicited advice
  • Learning to ignore the aforementioned judging and advising

There is a lot to be said for turning forty.  And the flabulousness could, with a lot, and I do mean a lot, of work, be turned into fabulousness.  Not that I am not, even at this moment, simultaneously flabulous AND fabulous. BUT, I would perhaps feel more fabulous if I were less flabulous…but, I digress…

Happy Birthday to Me!  I’m facing the big 4-0 head on!  Now let’s eat some cake, cause y’all know how I love me some cake!


Filed under Day to Day, Humor, Random Silliness