Month: December 2019

I can do this: stepping eagerly into senior adulthood

Source: pexels.comIn the coming year I’ll be facing my 60th birthday if the Lord wills. (Note: I am not shown anywhere in the stock photo above, source Kaboompics.com.) What a great rundown of privileges I can list that I’ve known during these six decades.

The family I was given was medium-sized, led by two parents married to each other. I grew up with one sibling of each gender. In spite of squabbles and pecking-order issues, I very much count the sibling experience as a positive: we found ways to have fun together and to help one another deal with parents, with growing pains, and with life. Not to mention, being third in line to have some of my siblings’ teachers in high school was helpful in a specific way a time or two. #OldTestsATeacherUsedAgain

My mother gave each of us three children coins with the image of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on them because he held office when all of us were born, between 1957 and 1960. John F. Kennedy was elected a couple of months after I was born. The television coverage of his tragic assassination and his funeral in 1963 I remember very faintly. We were at my grandmother’s house in High Point, North Carolina, for Thanksgiving.

A lot of folks build long-term childhood memories as they grow up in one house, in one town. Others, like me, experience frequent moves. Being a frequent mover may mean you were either a military kid or a preacher’s kid. I was the latter. I had no control over the fact that either moving or rezoning placed me in five different elementary schools for six years of schooling, but it was what it was. There were drawbacks to my social experience related to that frequent uprooting, but there were pluses, too. I have acquaintances and roots in a number of different communities:

  • Reidsville, NC, in Rockingham County (south of Danville, VA)
  • Finley, ND, where my father served for approximately two years in “pioneer” Baptist church work near the Finley Air Force Base that’s no longer in operation
  • Gretna, VA, where my fondest memories of “simple” childhood were made
  • Elizabeth City, NC, a “pretty far piece” outside the city limits, in yet another small church within a farming community

When I entered college in 1978, academic scholarships, BEOG, SEOG, a $50-per-semester “minister’s child discount” and work-study earnings added up to my ultimately obtaining a four-year degree from a private school and walking across the stage debt-free. #SoThankful

I have experienced the technological revolution from BASIC and FORTRAN and MS-DOS to Windows and Intel and iPhone. My father wrapped TV antenna “rabbit ears” with aluminum foil to improve reception, and my children are “cutting the cord” to get the best entertainment value from a combination of wireless providers.

Speaking of technology, my dad probably used that aluminum foil in 1969 to try to get the best possible picture of the first walk on the moon. He also used whatever type of camera we owned then to snap inferior-quality pictures of the television screen during that historic occasion.

As for me and my husband, we still live somewhere between rabbit ears and cutting the cord. Years ago we mastered the VCR, taping episode after episode of shows like M*A*S*H and Gomer Pyle, USMC; also football games and many a television movie, many of those being MGM musicals – normally, three two-hour flicks per tape. We bought and assembled two – TWO! – Sauder brand particle-board cabinets with fold-out doors (much like the one pictured below) to hold our impressive library of recorded and purchased VHS tapes! We made our first home movies with a monstrously large cam-corder when I was expecting our first child and was dressed in a very comfortable but hideous maternity dress made of two gray sweatshirts, the lower one neckless and sleeveless and stitched to the bottom edge of the upper one. And I was sitting in a Bentwood rocker. We no longer own the media cabinets, the “sweat dress,” the rocker, or the cam-corder. And we’re glad about that. #StuffComesAndGoes

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The movies of our girls’ dance team practices, camps, performances and competitions were filmed with a much sleeker camera model using High-8 tapes. Not counting the home movies, our house is almost entirely free now of magnetic tape resources. But, as you know, clever marketing reaches out…generously and disinterestedly (not)…to us Baby Boomers, bringing back into vogue the vintage stuff that helps us to relive those fond old times. Thanks in part to a very amazing and generous aunt with great taste in music, we own and enjoy a small but enviable collection of vinyl LPs ranging from Henry Mancini and Jackie Gleason to 101 Strings. And we have a pretty good machine to play these platters on.

More blessings…

With my family of origin and with the family of which I am the wife and mom, I have been on vacations hither, thither, and yon. I’ve slept in canvas-cot bunks in a sheet aluminum truck bed camper my father built himself, and I’ve stayed in luxurious hotels when accompanying my husband on business trips. In longer-term situations like home, dorm, and apartment, I’ve been thankful for a range of accommodations from twin beds in shared rooms sparsely furnished to queen beds in adequately-furnished houses.

If I want to, I can apply for any sort of job or enroll in any kind of educational class or training…because I live in a great, free country. While working in the field that chose me (so to speak), I earned salary, had medical benefits, and built a retirement account. Speaking of retirement, not quite a year ago I opted to end the life stage of full-time employment even while being a few years shy of what may be the average retirement age range (62-65).

And that just about brings us full-circle. This article was in the works, partly in my head and partly on my iPad, on the morning of December 13 as I ventured into my city’s senior adult center for the first time to join an exercise class there. The class was not meeting that particular Friday, but in place of the opportunity to exercise I received a guided tour of the senior center and very helpful information on all of the groups, activities, and amenities connected therewith – from a complimentary computer lab to art lessons to ballroom dancing! I would absolutely love to learn ballroom dancing. But, the honest truth is they had me at “computer lab.” #AQuietPlaceToWrite

Speaking of writing, during my tour conducted by facility manager Dana Henson, I had the chance to tell her I have two novels in print. She promptly offered to connect me with the leader of the center’s book group.

I can do this.

I can step proudly and eagerly into this next phase, identifying as a senior adult. I already have the gray hair, the leg and hip pain, and the backing off of buying any shoes that look better than they feel. It’s about time I started experiencing more of the happier aspects!

Hoover Senior Center 12-13-2019
Here I am outside the Hoover, Alabama Senior Adult Center on a recent Friday morning. I ventured in expecting to participate in an exercise class that I discovered wasn’t meeting that day due to a special holiday lunch event.

Called-Out Life E-devotional

In keeping with this blog’s purpose, to provide Christian encouragement, I conclude with some thoughts along that line. A number of ministers with name recognition – as well as a host of other authors – have written books of advice for retirees and for almost-retirees. Here I mention only a couple of those:

Gary Fenton’s Your Ministry’s Next Chapter is directed at pastors specifically. To my way of thinking, therefore, it should be required reading for everybody who sits under the leadership of any pastor, same as Jerreal Buchanan’s Who’s Calling My Name?, the subject of a separate post on this site!

Charles Swindoll has several books that speak to seasons of life. And here is some online wisdom of his.

But don’t go out and buy any or every book about retirement without reading reviews. I love the review pictured below. Talk about a helpful “executive summary”!
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Campers on Mission came to mind very quickly, a throwback not only to my Baptist background but to my personal experience, aforementioned, as a kid in a family that camped more often than we stayed in motels or hotels. The thing is, I’ll be navigating retirement with a hubby who loves to quip, “Booking a room at Hampton Inn is how I camp out!” So, scratch Campers on Mission. Has anybody started a group called Hotel Dwellers on Mission? How about Barbecue Restaurant Frequenters on Mission?

The book of Job offers a great reminder about one particular aspect of aging. Notice how it totally debunks the idea that older folks have the monopoly on wisdom and all younger folks should shut up and listen! It’s God’s Spirit in a person, no matter what age that person is, that gives understanding.

We seniors may have been around the block a few more times, but we need to keep learning and we need to keep listening. Listening politely. Don’t miss that in verses 11-12. There’s a really important reminder there – for people of all ages:

  1. listen
  2. be patient while someone else speaks
  3. don’t interrupt
  4. give your full attention to the speaker!

Job 32:6-12
So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
    and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
    not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, ‘Age should speak;
    advanced years should teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit[b] in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
It is not only the old[c] who are wise,
    not only the aged who understand what is right.
10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;
    I too will tell you what I know.
11 I waited while you spoke,
    I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
12     I gave you my full attention.