My way (way) older sister, Jo, and I have been blessed in our over-the-hill years to live in close proximity after many years of living long distances away from each other. When the weather cooperates we meet to walk around the pond in the mornings for fresh air and exercise. My daughter, Holly, who sprints around the pond, often catches up with us and, in order to maintain the pace of our more mature and measured gait, walks backwards to sufficiently slow herself down.
As we mosey down the path, two dogs accompany us–Auri and Neo–our grand dogs. Since their owners work, Jo and I, who consider ourselves semi-retired, volunteer to let the dogs hang with us during the day so they don’t have to be alone. We have developed a daily routine now which includes walking, or sometimes riding in the golf-cart to pick up the dogs. Then we walk, or ride, depending on the weather, and/or our disposition of the moment toward walking. We never argue about whether to walk or ride. Neither of us really wants to walk anyway. We discovered this one day when instead of parking the cart so that we could begin our walk, I absentmindedly kept going. There would have been no way to explain to a casual observer why the two old ladies in the golf cart were laughing hysterically, as they followed behind the somewhat confused dogs. Coincidentally, I have found that hysterical laughing is more common now that I am meeting Jo for exercise. I’m pretty sure I needed it and I think she did too, laughing that is, not exercise. I suspect that we have reached the point of no return, in a world going to hell in a hand-basket, where one must laugh to stave off uncontrollable weeping. Under such dismal circumstances exercise seems somewhat moot.
Even though Jo is, as I mentioned, way, way older than I, a fact I am often compelled to remind her of, for some mysterious reason, I have caught up to her in age physically, if not chronologically. Degrees of physical decline, arthritis, assorted other pains, and forgetfulness are non-quantifiable in terms of years and thus it seems we have come to be equally old. We’ve both scratched off or deleted everything on our bucket lists. We have both been-there/done-that and more, running now mostly on auto-pilot. Though different in many ways, we have both always been doers who love to learn and do and we have both forgotten more things that we learned and did than most people hope to do in a lifetime. No brag, just fact.
But what we both have learned together in the past nine months of pseudo-exercise walking/riding is that growing old, apparently, is not for the faint of heart. One must be pragmatic and good-humored to suffer the indignities of aging with grace. I, for one, and I believe Jo agrees, do not understand the obsession with living long enough to advance into the triple digits. I haven’t even hit 70 yet and I am already wondering why anyone would aspire to be 90. Another 24 years? Can’t imagine.
So, both of us, being nothing if not practical, are taking what is left to us and enjoying everything day to day, minute to minute. Given the hard truth that cannot be ignored anyway that we are no longer young and there are many more things that we can not nor wish to do than there are those things we can, therefore we have embraced the point in fact that the smallest pleasures are indeed what matter, after all.
At the end of our exhausting (if not exhilarating) morning exercise we often pause to chat over coffee, hashing over current events, positing the perfect solutions for the problems of the world. We try to avoid comparing the hallmarks of our downhill slide from seniors to elders, like how putting on our pjs and crawling into bed shortly after an early dinner never seems to get old, focusing instead on things we enjoy like tracking the various activities of the wildlife on the pond or going to lunch together at least once a week and doing our grocery shopping together. We are an exclusive two-person book club and share deep discussions about the current titles we are reading, she preferring fiction and I non-fiction. We are on the same page spiritually and can talk with discernment about faith and trust in Christ as the only place to hide in the escalating times of trouble.
And walking the dogs (sometimes following them in the golf-cart).
After all these years of just being sisters connected by familial bonds, now we are not only good friends, we are an ongoing source of good humor for ourselves and to our family. We are referred to, in great fun poked at us, as the Two Grannies, Little Doggy Daycare. It’s okay though. We don’t mind being the cause for laughter. After all, what better legacy can we leave to those we love? We have unwittingly adopted our dear brother’s life-long motto: Better to leave them laughing.
In the end, what treasure on earth can buy a belly laugh?
(Matthew 6:19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: (6:20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (6:21) for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.