My Aging Autumn Years

Life Springs forth in one’s youth and Summer nurtures its productivity

I can still remember the excitement of turning 6 years old. It meant that I would be going to school to learn to read and write. I didn’t care much for being 13 though, because I felt awkward and out of my depth but at 16 felt like I had arrived. Then from 26 years to 36 years I was my happiest because I really had grown up and was an autonomous being. I was working, married and later had two children. I had purpose.

The harvest of Autumn years

Turning 57 last year didn’t have the same thrill. Ever since my mother died in October 2019 it felt like the hammer had fallen hard upon me. Over the previous years I had watched her dwindle away slowly, shifting from a vibrant creative being, to tired worn out body laboring to stay alive. It saddened me to watch her go through this wasting away; she was no longer independent and autonomous. I was her only child so I eventually I was given power of attorney and I felt the responsibility as an honor and as a heavy burden.

Since she died I have become so much more aware of this path she took and now I face the aging path myself. Some people refer to this stage as the senior years. We are all on this path. It feels so thrilling to grow up but it can feel very daunting as we face the fact that we have grown up, matured, and are now slowly becoming seniors, shifting toward the end our journeys.  I have always seen it as the cycle of life but there is little comfort in this knowledge if one just resigns oneself to a meager life. When I asked my husband if he ever thinks of growing old his answer was: “Only with reluctance.”

What changed my view?

Reluctance is exactly what I felt at the beginning of last year. I was not happy about growing old. My view was negative. As I was sitting in my doctor’s office I looked up on his wall and I saw a painting that just about changed my life or the direction of my life; it was not the content but what I learned about the artist that I found profound. I knew the doctor did sculpture and so I asked him if he had painted it and he said: “No that was done by a patient of mine who is in her 90’s; she still travels, paints and writes.” And in that moment I thought “Wow, I want to be like that lady when am old.” And so last year was the year I decided to make some lifestyle changes and lost 14kg amongst other things; I also changed my mind set about growing old.

After I had seen the doctor I went home and researched “older women’s lives” on the internet. I wanted to see the women who were thriving, not just surviving in a meager way. I read about women in the 50’s, 60’s and even 80’s becoming models, writers, going back to college and changing careers, becoming active, running changing lives and moving continents. It was most inspiring. Instead of giving up or shutting down I decided to make things happen. Another thing I did was start regular exercise. I decided I wanted to be agile, supple and energetic for as long as possible. My “train” of thoughts was heading in the wrong direction and so I made changes to my life. Today I can lift objects 3 times the weight that I could before I started exercising. I can feel I am much stronger. Needless to say I feel much more confident in my body.

Planning forward.

It is important to plan for your retirement (or becoming a senior) but I don’t just mean financially. It is important to save for the future. Hopefully we can, although some people never get to stop working, out of necessity, or because they want to work – it’s what gives them meaning. For me, retirement is not just about stopping a career, it is about change: changing life situations and change in ones body. It is about winding down and it is inevitable. It might even mean stopping certain habits, or pastimes and abilities. It could very well be about starting new things that might be challenging but uplifting. Sometimes this changing process  includes a slower paced life or children have left home, or your house is too big and it is too much for you to look after. There are so many ways in which ones life changes as one moves into the autumn years. If we plan we can reap the rewards.

The autumn years are like a train journey: as one gets older the tracks shift direction. It is a good thing. I have grown wiser and calmer. I know what I want and my boundaries are firmer. I have learnt to communicate clearly and kindly.  In order to live a thriving life without reluctance I need to plan for the future: apart from finances, health is important too. I got cancer in my late 40’s. No one could have predicted it. We will have to face many unforeseen circumstances, even if we do plan. We won’t be exempt, but I believe planning for a thriving life is the aim, and then the rest is up to Grace.

What do you want from life as you grow old?

In the following list consider the possibilities of gains and losses:

  • Friends, family, pets,
  • hobbies, skills, charities, careers,
  • grandchildren,
  • sharing wisdom,
  • travel, smaller home, responsibilities,
  • health care, more time, less energy, sagging skin, wasting muscles,
  • reading to one another, sharing interests, bird watching,
  • gardening, walking, sailing, crafts, creativity, cooking, baking,
  • the list is endless.

It is up to us to decide how we are going to live.

It doesn’t mean that I am unaware of the losses: we will lose loved ones, partners and friends; loss of dignity; loss of autonomy and independence: loss of mobility, handling your own finance or even feeding yourself or your ability to walk. The loss and letting go continues until finally it is time to pass on. Normally by then one is ready to pass on but between 58 years old and the time I die (whenever that is) there is much to be done and much life to be enjoyed no matter where I am or where I live.

Have you given growing into your senior years any thought? Does the prospect scare you? Or do you see yourself thriving and living with Grace? These are the thoughts I have been mulling over recently.

Take care, till next time.

41 thoughts on “My Aging Autumn Years

  1. This is quite an intense article Morag! I never really gave “growing older” much thought … until I look at our photo albums, see our friends’ children all growing up (or suddenly get an ache from nowhere 😉).
    But then, I suppose I’m not (yet) in my senior years – but soon will be – and then I will remember your post. I am not afraid of dying (I know my place in Heaven is prepared for me), but I would like to, like you, enjoy life while I’m on this earth.
    Thanks for a very insightful post 💌.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Morag, this is just so meaningful right now! I am 71 years of age and have never thought of myself as being ‘old’ except in a physical way. My body has begun to decline but the awareness of this only started a few years ago when my lower back, which had given me problems throughout my life, decided enough was enough! The wonderful physiotherapist I attended said one word that changed my way of thinking: mobility! As long as I can stay mobile I will be happy. Of course, I also include mobility of the mind, not just the body, and so I have an exercise routine that I do every morning, and it helps. I write, I am part of several wildlife, art, and philosophical groups and so my mind is kept active as well. I am not afraid of dying but I do want to fill my life with as much creativity as possible, in particular, producing a book of my poems with my own illustrations! At the age of 29, I was faced with losing my wife to cancer, but thankfully she survived. Since then she has gone through 3 more varieties of cancer and survived; these things have changed how I look at life! In December this year, we will celebrate 50 years of marriage and we cannot make our minds up as to what we should do to celebrate. It may end up being just an ordinary day as we are not good travelers! Your posts are wonderfully creative and thoughtful and I’m sure they will continue to inspire me. Enjoy your Sunday!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you for sharing what life has been like for you and your wife… It is both inspiring and encouraging. I agree mobility is crucial! I too would like to make a book of my writing and illustrations one day. That is one of my dreams 🌈thank you for your encouragement. I am so glad to connect via WordPress 🙌

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      • Thank you, Morag, for such a timely post for me. Yes I have thought long and hard about the changes my body is undergoing. I am learning to look at my body and thoughts and acknowlege the aging in both. I am in the “throes” of aging, starting the 70’s in August. I am handling it pretty well, considering I just went through the Covid year unable to see my sons and their families except on FaceChat to protect my sons and their families. In some ways I feel stronger for having survived that year and the mild case of Covid I had early last December. I am thankful to be mobile, able to write, walk, enjoy nature and life, my friends, family and my cat. Life is worth living as long as you are able to enjoy some part of it.

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  3. A very very inspiring post. You have not only grown old, but also wiser and stronger, and that’s the way one should take one’s life. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we must know what we are going to do tomorrow. That keeps both mind and body agile. Thanks for sharing a wonderful post. All the best for your future endeavours 🙏💐

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Such a beautiful reflection and filled with so much wisdom. I like to think of myself as getting wiser with age ☺️ and hope to continue finding the comfort in being wiser as the body physically age. Happy birthday, and may your years continue to overflow with wisdom and blessings in abundance 💝

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  5. Thank you for sharing your journey. I think about growing old-er, quite a lot, but my reasons (for now) are more to do with regret, regret about the things I wanted to do or have not yet accomplished. But then again, with age comes wisdom, sometimes, and I think especially last year were a great teacher, and if we made notes, then we can get some momentum going, and get rid of some of the regrets, or rather accept them, and move on and do what you can still do/accomplish with the time you have left, who knows how long you still have here.

    I love what you said in the beginning, you had purpose. So true, if we have purpose, then we can be happy and live life, happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure and thank you for sharing your thoughts too… I can relate… I remember how in my 40s I regretted not facing my fears when I left school. I suffered with agoraphobia and couldn’t see my way to going to university but I studied when my children grew up after I realized that I had that regret. Regrets can guide you in to the hearts desire, but as you say age brings wisdom. Regret with wisdom can be a positively powerful force. May you live with purpose and happiness.

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  6. I like this, “I believe planning for a thriving life is the aim, and then the rest is up to Grace” life is mostly about perspective because the future we imagine for ourselves plus some action makes our desires a reality.

    I never really gave aging much thought untill I journeyed with my mum in her last years, seeing her fading away and the pain at the end changed my perspective on life. I chose to be intentional, more present, find gladness in my everyday and moments, imagine, think, keep healthy and much more.

    Aging is a journey we are all destined towards, how we choose to face it is important. Wishing you wellness and strength about the cancer. And for the space left by your mum. May you continue to age gracefully and abudance come your way in your autumn years

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, it sounds like our experience is similar. My experience with mom awakened me… I like what you say about living intentionally, being present and gladness… That is a wonderful way to live one’s days from beginning to end. 🙌🙌🌈

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  8. This is such an interesting and beautifully written post, Morag. It really does make you think and reflect — and this is what I’ve been doing a lot too. I am also your age, and while I’m constantly anxious for my ailing mother and brother who are separated from me, I have decided to take life by the horns and really go for it. I appreciate every moment and have loads of plans, hobbies, sports and other things I want to pursue, as well as the social part too: perhaps some voluntary work so that I can give back what I’ve received. Twenty four hours in a day seems short. I feel stronger than I was, despite certain problems, and also more rejuvenated — wiser too. It’s important to try to stay positive and to always be grateful for what one has. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your experience… I love hearing how people are processing life’s journey. You sound like you are doing so many wonderful things. I have been considering what my purpose is as I grow older… And like you have thought of volunteering… We are also considering relocating to be closer to our children and so then I will want to be more involved in the community. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My inspiration was the opposite of yours. My mother was convinced she was dying from the time she was fifty. She lived to be 95. When she died, I decided I was going to live all of my years to my fullest ability. It just seemed so sad that she had wasted so many of hers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes you are right, that is sad.. A life only half lived. It is wonderful that you could take the opposite view.

      I almost feel like I didn’t live as fully in my first half of life compared to all that I do now but I suppose it’s just a different life I am living now. Thank you for your contribution. Take care

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  10. Pingback: I Love Life. | Morag Noffke

  11. “Since she died I have become so much more aware of this path she took and now I face the aging path myself.”
    Morag,
    I know what you mean, although my mom died in 2011, I keep learning from her!

    It’s early morning amd I’m sitting on the front porch as the sun breaks through what’s left of the night’s storm. As I read your post, I felt I had a friend sitting here with me, sharing wonderful words of inspiration amd hope! I’m ten years ahead of you but feel life is endlessly new. I began writing in my fifties and what joy it has brought me. Here’s to staying strong inside and out! Thank you for your lovely words—
    Deb

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  12. We are about the same age (I’m 56) and I also lost my mother recently. My parents were together 50 years and my dad is left without her at 79. He struggles and sometimes talks about how it is inevitable that he will be put into a home. I help care for him and he is still able to get around although he does have some difficulty due to injured knees. His way of thinking can be frustrating, I think because I see things differently. My grandmother (his mother) was healthy until her 90s – she took a walk every day but in her 80s she gave it up and sat a lot – that is when she became bent over and she finally passed at 94 due to a stroke. I always thought that if she continued her walks and sought out things that made her happy she might have made it even longer. But she was bored in her mind. It’s hard to say exactly why people decline, but I believe it is how a person thinks and believes. I’ve always sought out stories of older women living a happy healthy life and there are so many! One woman in her late 90s was a lifelong dancer and did yoga, happy, beautiful and radiant as can be, doing yoga poses that looked very difficult, beautifully. Another in her 90s living independently in her own home being filmed by one of her grandkids doing cooking shows and teaching depression-era and health knowledge. Louise Hay lived til her 90s, a beautiful life. There’s so many more.

    It seems it is not destined that becoming older means losing independence and that a person’s beliefs, actions and attitudes have more to do with it. At this point I sometimes think a person’s thinking and societal beliefs contribute to their decline. But who knows for sure – all’s I know is I’m striving to be one of those ladies that lives long, well and independent until her last day.

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