Do you remember when you were young that every fractions of your age was important? Just the other day I heard a small boy announce, “I am seven and a quarter,” and got the impression he might have taken your hand off if you’d tried to rid him of those three months. And yet pretty soon in life we not only want to forget the fractions but the whole numbers as well.
I have a pretty big (massive actually) birthday coming up pretty soon and honestly I can hardly believe I have hit that age. Some time ago somebody sent my husband, Rob, a card that read, “If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you think you were?” What a fascinating question!
In You Me and Coffee, I tell the story of a nurse I met. I suppose she was approaching sixty and she shared with me late one night in the hospital ward how she was feeling as she got older. Here is a little of what she said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life and I don’t know if I’m going to stay with my husband. I’m very gregarious but my husband isn’t. He’s retired and never wants to do anything. I go out with my daughter and all the men look at her because she’s stunning and I can’t even get my own husband to pay me attention.” And then she said something I have never been able to get out of my mind; “I feel like I’m living in the silent age.”
So many of the women that I speak with share similar thoughts; it’s understandable. We wake in the morning, look in the mirror and see a new wrinkle or ageing spot and begin to realise that we cannot win the war against time. Some have said that they grieve their youth when somebody glanced at them or passed a comment which made them feel good. But is it possible to think in in different way?
Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” I like that quote, but how do we deal with the problem that society – especially parts of the media – so often judge us by how we look? Particularly when that’s even harder to deal with as you get older?
Perhaps we can’t change the way the world looks at us, but we can change the way we look at ourselves. We are each created unique and loved by God unconditionally whatever age we are. When I grasp that I can more easily call my wrinkles “laughter lines” and my age spots “beauty marks”.
Another of Mark Twain’s quotes was, “Plan for the future – it’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.” I know only too well that for those who suffer ill health or are experiencing other traumas it is sometimes hard to be positive about tomorrow but for most of us it is here that we have a choice. We can choose how we view our lives, how we use our time, and whether we seek out those who build us up rather than pull us down.
I remember speaking to three thousand women at an event in the Royal Albert Hall. It was a time to encourage us all that we can make a difference in our society and even the smallest of acts of kindness can change life for someone – and even ourselves. Some quite elderly women wrote to me afterwards to say they were going to view life differently.
And we can start that at any age.
Dianne Parsons is a speaker, wife, mother and grandmother and often joins her husband in supporting Care for the Family, a national charity which aims to promote strong family life and to help those who face family difficulties. In her new book, You, Me and Coffee, Dianne shares her thoughts and reflections on a wide range of topics, including self-esteem, encouraging others, married life, following our dreams, post-natal depression and ME, vulnerability, masks, the joys of grandchildren, pressures women face today, motherhood, loneliness, ageing, prayer, and much more. You, Me and Coffee is now available from Lion Hudson.