ON MY MIND: The faster it goes

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

Recently my friend said he saw a vintage car advertised. It was a model from 1962. He was pretty shocked as he was older than that and certainly does not consider himself to be vintage.

A lot of people I know are getting older. I read that 13,000 Americans will turn 60 every single day for the next 20 years. That’s a lot of aging going on.

The other night we were watching TV. Several women came on the screen that I thought looked old. I kept asking my husband if I looked as old as they did. In all but one, he said that I did. And that one looked really old. I don’t know. That night cream I bought that calls itself a fighting moisturizer, I’m wondering how hard it’s fighting! I may be due for a refund. Diane Sawyer said, “You don’t see it coming. Other people look older and then you think, ‘Oh,wait, I look older too’.” Amen, Diane, Amen.

My friend, Linda, recently described a group she had been with. “The people were younger. They were all like we think we are.” Bummer. Reality bites.

I also love that Andy Rooney quote. “Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes.” Yikes!

My husband had a big birthday recently. You know the kind. They have a zero in them and they change who you are … forever. Some people sail through them without blinking. Others get all contemplative. Some whine and moan. My husband never blinked. I, of course, was in a stunned state just thinking about it. Even though it wasn’t my birthday, it was way too close for comfort. (Is this where I should add that he married a much, much younger woman?)

I sent out an email to friends and family asking them to send him birthday cards. He knew nothing about this. When they began to fill the mailbox, email and Facebook, he was thrilled and surprised. It went on for a few days and in the middle of opening them he said, “This is the greatest gift ever!” It is wonderful how such a simple thing can bring such profound joy and love. It was also surprising to see how naughty some birthday cards can be!

Our daughter-in-law had the grandsons write 70 things they love about Grandpa. They decorated a brown paper bag to put them in. Each was written on a bright colored paper and folded up. They were wonderful. The youngest wrote, “I love that you have fur on your chest.” “I love that you can milk a cow.” The funniest was, “I love that you’re not dead like Grandpa Joe.” Sadly, Grandpa Joe died a few years ago and this was a great example of how kids just say it like it is.

Rather than giving birthday gifts, I concentrated on celebrating his life. It made for a perfect birthday and went on for days. It made that Will Rogers quote come to life. “We are all here for a spell. Get all the good laughs you can.”

My niece just turned 19 and her mom is already hating the thought that next year her baby will turn 20. Each time we hit a zero birthday, we have a chance to pause and reflect. Madeleine L’Engle said, “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” What a cool thought. Each decade or stage has its own unique flavor, growth and experiences. We end up being the sum of all of them.

As Barack Obama left his second inauguration ceremony, he paused and looked back. He stood there and took in the moment. He said, “I want to look back for a second. I won’t see this again.” It was a good lesson for all of us to stop and just relish our moments in life.

Life flies by. Days turn into decades and before we know it, we aren’t young-uns anymore. Because of the speed, it is especially worthwhile to remember to take it in along the way.

Robert Frost was the first poet to do a poem for a presidential inauguration. One of his quotes about life was this. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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