On Being 82

I have never felt old, like in old, old. I know that my body is not as firm or strong or flexible as it was in my 20’s, 30’s or even in my 50’s. I did, however, lose 50 pounds when I was 54 and I pumped iron so my body was probably as good as it would ever get again. I know for sure that my boobs will never be as firm and bouncy as they once were, as they now nestle somewhere between my waist and my belly button. Even my eyelids now droop and my skin is beginning to look like crepe paper. But, who cares. I’ve earned all those signs of aging and I claim them as badges of wisdom and accumulated knowledge.

But back to old. I have always felt young in heart and mind and soul. When I was in my 40’s I felt like I was 18 years old. When I was in my 60’s I felt like I was in my early 30’s. And now that I am 82, I still feel as if my soul and spirit were somewhere in my mid 50’s. I am at that age where I have learned a coal-truck ton about life and suffered more than I bargained for when I was 20.

I won’t talk about the fat that secretely crawls in under your skin at night while you sleep. Or the clothes hanging in your closet or dresser drawers that shrink a size or two at night. Anyone my age knows all about those things unless, of course, they are those skinny, perfectly proportioned, robots that are manufactured on a faraway planet and shipped into our world when we aren’t looking.

My eyesight is hanging in there with the help of glasses, and while my hearing isn’t too bad, my understanding of words (clarity) are in the pits. I can cover it pretty well if I look at people, but my least favorite phrase is, “What did you say?” And, with the aid of an army of medications my cholesterol, blood pressure, and A1C is all good. If you don’t know what A1C is, just wait until you’re older and your doctor will explain it to you.

So for an 82 year-old crone, I think I’m doing pretty good. I get plenty of sleep, watch my sugar and carb intake, have about one glass of wine a week, don’t smoke, and try to find joy in everything I can. And, I try to be kind and gentle to everyone. My goal is to reach 100 years-old. But if I don’t make it, it won’t be because I didn’t try. Onward.

Rain

Normally I like rain. I view rain as nourishing the earth and bringing forth new life, particularly in the spring. When I was a little girl our street would flood when it rained long and hard. My mother would let me and my sister outside when the rain ended so we could splash around in the “lake” in front of the house. It was such fun. Not so much anymore, but that is more a consequence of not wanting to have a grown adult look ridiculous jumping up and down in a big puddle, laughing and giggling at the fun of it all.

Jump | Photo, Singing in the rain, Beautiful children

And I often wonder what happened to umbrellas. I have three golf-sized ones that never get used, and two small collapsible ones that rarely get used. It seems so much easier to make a dash for the door even in a downpour rather than struggle to get the “brelly” open outside of the half-open door to my van. And getting it back inside the van is even more of a challenge and much wetter.

Harry Anderson tries to stay relatively dry as he maneuvers his umbrella  into position before slipping out of his car during a steady rainstorm,  Thursday, Dec 27, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Today it has been raining steadily here all day and our rain gauge shows we have about three inches so far. I’ll not go out in it, I’ll just watch the trees leaf out and the bulbs blossom as they suck in the nourishment. I am, however, grateful that it is not snow. That would be about three feet of the white stuff which I and the flora can do without, thank you very much.

Spring-blooming Bulbs | White Flower Farm
Why isn't my tree leafing? - TreesCharlotte

It’s Never Too Late – Or Maybe It Is

It is never too late my writing buddies say. Well, that is good news because I have three writing projects that are on eternal hold since my spouse Ralph died.  Actually, only two because the third idea came after his death. The first is to finish my novel on domestic abuse with some detail on the divorce process and pain, the second is an article about the advantages and disadvantages of being ordained at the age of 60 or older, and the third a book of the love-letters Ralph and I wrote to each other over the period of a year. 

I’ve always thought it was strange that we had stopped writing to each other once we moved in together, but we did.  One year for our anniversary we decided to write each other a love letter. It wasn’t the same. It didn’t have the same yearning, the same ardor, the same sense of romance and excitement. You see, while together we were living our love letters in action, while apart we lived in an unfulfilled void that was only filled with letters. Not filled with our actions together, hugs, snuggles in bed, lovemaking, kisses, “I love you’s,” joy as we laughed together, sorrow as we wept in each other’s arms.  The ability to share our stories, our days, our feelings, our hopes, and dreams. To touch, to hold hands as we walked down the street together, or the fun of tossing a meal together, or the happiness of sharing a meal at a fancy restaurant. The kind of togetherness that only best friends and soulmates enjoy together until death comes to one or the other.  When only memories of their glory days as one soul fill the hole ripped out of one’s heart as the other’s heart ceases to beat and the beat of grief takes over the one left behind. The one left behind to ache and weep and mourn until that precious and cleansing tincture of time heals and closes the wound while the memories become pearls of comfort, carried along until that last breath of a beautiful relationship crosses over into the spiritual realm where all souls dwell.

Learning how to live…

I am learning how to live without my Ralph.  We were attached at the hip and the heart, not to mention the soul. Many commented on our deep love and connection with each other in the over 80 cards and e-mails we received. They saw what we lived.

I am learning to live without his smile except in pictures. I am learning to live without his presence that so filled my life.

I am learning to live alone with my daughter who lives with us and to forge a mutual connection that suits both of our diverse personalities.  We have found that it isn’t going to be as easy as we imagined. We are trying. 

I am learning to live with a sense of freedom I haven’t had since I was twenty. The freedom to chose what I want without discussing it with anyone else. The freedom to go where I please, to make independent decisions, to not be accountable to anyone but myself.

I am learning to get my own morning coffee, change the dog’s water, and feed both of us at days end. 

I am learning to be a widow. To forge stronger relationships with other widows. To share our grief and our joys. To be with people and not hide myself away in my house. I am learning to venture out more often and see the world without sharing it with Ralph.

Good-bye, my beloved. I will miss you every day and wish that I wasn’t learning to live without your presence.

Wisdom, Wrinkles, and What Was I Thinking?

Chit chatting with a friend has put me in a fine kettle of fish. I innocently asked if there were women priests who had been ordained as an Episcopal Priest at age 60 or older. Then I mentioned that I might like to write an essay about their journey to ordination, mine included. My friend said, “So, write it!” I told her it would take too much time and research to track these women down and I was in a sea of busy these days. “Oh, I’ll do your research,” she said. And off we went.

The next morning she had posted this on FB:

Crowdsourcing here:

Award-winning author, writer, and priest, Rita Beauchamp Nelson, was ordained just after her 60th birthday to the diaconate and, six months later, to the priesthood. She would like to be in contact with other women who were ordained in the seventh or eighth decade (60s and 70s) of life. Her plan is to write about their experiences and glean the wisdom they have to share with us. If you or someone you know (living or deceased) would be willing to share that story, please contact Rita at revrita23@gmail.com. Thanks in advance.


Well said, I thought, although I did wonder how my friend figured someone “deceased” could share a story. At any rate, it wasn’t two nano-seconds after she had posted this that my email and hers started humming with women answering the call (no pun intended). I was overjoyed. Okay, maybe not so much. I was shocked that the response had been so fast. Then I got scared – was I up to the task? Would an “essay” do it justice? Maybe it should be a book. Oh, God, this is going to be a bigger deal than I imagined. I need a glass of wine. I need a big dose of the HS infusing me with courage and strength and time and no crap from my family saying I bit off more than I could swallow.

Then that little voice in the back of my head said, “Calm down, Rita, you are up to this effort and it will be good, and is needed, and wanted, and…blah, blah, blah.” Well, that helps and I’ve set up my digital folder and answered these fabulous ladies and asked them to write down their stories for me, and we are – WOOHOO – on our way.

My working title is “Wisdom, Wrinkles, and What Was I Thinking? Still am wondering. Oh, and I told my friend she was signed up to give me more help than she bargained for. I’m not letting her off the hook.

Clear, Crisp, Clean

I used to live in the foothills of Los Angeles, and from the playground of my elementary school, Thomas A. Edison, on a “clear” day we could see LA and the ocean beyond. On other days it was shrouded in a yellow-brown cloud of smog. I thought of those days when I read how clean and clear the air is in the USA today. I was amazed at how quickly the air cleaned itself up with a washcloth named pandemic. 


The line “No purpose but what we make” hits home now because it is not the animals or the plants themselves that pollute, but humans. The cattle farts pollute, you say, yes true, but there would not be so many cattle if we didn’t need millions of them to feed our meat-hungry bellies.  The rest is mostly us – cars, planes, factories, power plants, fires, and the list goes on.  We know what we are doing. We have been told this for decades now. And our rivers, bays, and oceans are suffocating from our waste and dying. 
So what can I, one person, do to take our fragile earth off its respiratory and thrive? I can recycle as much as possible and not buy items that are not in recycled packages. I can cut down on my driving by doing my shopping and errands on one day, not four or five small trips. I can plant trees and shrubs. I can stop eating beef but I doubt I will ever become a vegetarian. I can take those plastic bags back to the grocery store and put them in the bin provided.  I can make my doctor’s appointments two a day, not on separate days. I can pray that if everyone did some of these things, and more I haven’t thought about, our earth might once again be clean, clear, crisp and celebrating that we humans are taking good care of her.

Conflicted

Conflicted

I am rather conflicted about the re-opening of our economy. I am not suggesting immediate re-opening, but rather a controlled opening driven by science and reason. At some point, we must re-open, or we will all be starving, locked in our homes.

If the economy is not re-opened, people will eventually have no jobs, no income, and will not be generating the goods and services we need. Ultimately, not only the food chain will break down as it already is doing, but also the electric grid, the waste disposal plants, the water delivery system, the sewer systems, the medical system, and on and on. We most likely can’t sustain a lockdown for even a year.

We must face the fact that when we re-open the economy, our “new normal” is going to be personal protection and hygiene everywhere as we shop, work, and play. Businesses will also function with a “new normal” of limited exposure to customers and clients who will all be wearing PPE as a daily part of the dress code. There will be increased testing – temperature taking, blood tests, COVID tests. Many more employees will be working from home. Social distancing will be the norm everywhere. Disinfecting facilities and homes will be done regularly.

It may be a limited economy for some time before it is fully opened, but it must and will eventually happen. And yes, we will probably lose more folks to COVID19, but if we don’t re-open and have to go back to hunting and foraging, no medications, no services, no electric, no running water, no sewage facilities, etc. many more will die. I know this is an exaggeration, a worst-case scenario, but at some point, we have to stop focusing exclusively on the virus and consider where a closed economy would lead us.

After COVID19

For weeks now my spouse and I have been talking about what our “new normal” is going to be. Just today, I told him I was prepared to shelter-at-home until at least the end of summer. He reminded me that our economy would be in shambles, worst than the great depression if that was the case. Well, of course, everyone is so focused on the disease itself, I have put the economy on the back burner.

But it got me thinking about the new normal. We couldn’t keep our economy shut down forever. Even for more than a couple of months. Smart Governors are planning a slow phase-in of business openings. One has suggested opening barbershops and hair salons first. Yuck. Those places are rarely spanking clean. And who in their right mind wants to sit in perhaps a germ-infested chair for what, a half-hour, hour? Not this lady. Never. No. Restaurants maybe, but will seating a small number of patrons keep the business afloat? Perhaps. Theaters, concert halls, arenas, and stadiums should not be opened either – a real hot spot for the virus to spread to a multitude of people in a nano-second.

So, that got me thinking about how we could open businesses during a time of pandemic, or even a declining pandemic.

It boils down to each of us. Hospital personnel are donned in gowns, masks, goggles, and gloves (PPE) at work. If we go out shopping, at any store, or go to work, in any business, we will have to don the same PPE. It will become our personal responsibility to protect ourselves in the corona-ridden environment. Now, there will be some people who simply won’t do that and chance getting COVID19 or Influenza. There will be those who will don their PPE and go shopping or to work. And, many will still get infected. And, we will treat them at home or in hospitals. Hopefully, we will be better prepared for them. Hopefully, the numbers will be less because many of us protected ourselves. Hopefully, the economy will recover.

Bernie

What I know about Bernie. Practically nothing more than I have seen at rallies and debates. I know that he had a mild heart attack and has some cardiac stents. I didn’t have a mild heart attack, but I had two cardiac stents implanted thirteen years ago and I’m still kicking. I know that Bernie’s birthday is September 8th, 1941 and that he will be seventy-nine this year.

For the record, I am not a Bernie supporter, but not because he is a Democratic Socialist (the second part of that affiliation he should drop). And, not because his ideas are so radically leftist. I am not a Bernie lover because he is old, he has been in congress for over thirty years, and well, just because I think the majority of voters will see him as same-ole, same-ole.

But, if the nomination is Bernie Sanders, I will vote for him in November. I firmly believe in VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO. However, that said, I would like to see Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar as his running mate, in that order. Why? Because when Bernie has his next, and perhaps last, heart attack, she will become President. And, because Bernie will almost certainly be a one-term President if he survives, and because she will have the experience of VP to be elected President in 2024.

Image result for images of elizabeth warren

If #45 should win in 2020, we won’t have to worry about future elections because #45 will be a fascist dictator who will have destroyed our democratic republic, and there will be no elections. Ponder that.

Image result for images of trump

The Miracle of Earth

I have never ceased to be amazed at the miracle of the earth. It is no wonder that from time immemorial human beings have been awed at the magnificent crafting of our universe by a force that caused it all to happen, and named by some, “God.”

Consider the ozone layer that protects us from terrestrial rays of harm. Consider the amazing propinquity between the plants and the human, each giving life to the other and without the other would not exist.

Consider the majesty of creating another life in the womb of a female through the union of egg and sperm, or the scattering of seeds upon the ground.

Consider the vastness of the variety of animal, birds, fish, butterflies, insects, roaming this fragile planet giving all life food and natural fertilizer for our plants.

Consider the dog and cat, our furry companions, ready to give us unconditional love so we know it and should model our life on that kind of love.

Consider the transit of our rock around the scorching sun that gives all life its light and warmth that germinates and grows us into healthy forms, yet gives us night to restore and rejuvenate us.

Consider the moon that lights the darkest path when none else is there. Consider the north star that guides us when we are lost.

Consider the billions of stars revealed to us through the Hubbel telescope, the beauty of which our naked eye cannot even imagine.

Consider the force that keeps all life from bursting apart until our time is done, our work accomplished, our body weary and worn, ready to become dust and rejoin our mystical, magical, place in the universe, perhaps as star, perhaps as soul, perhaps as angel, perhaps as some yet unknown form.

With my God, or with whatever your ancestors named your creator of the universe.