My Thoughts Commentaries LAUGHTER AND LIGHT


happy elderly women in trendy clothes smiling

              As and old woman sits rocking as the spring breeze ruffles the soft white hair curling around her face.  The sun gently caresses her as she looks beyond the clouds.  Beyond time itself.  She laughs.  Its really not so much that she has to laugh about, but more so that she laughs about so much.  You see, laughing has allowed her to survive and grow from all that life has thrown at her.  The twinkle of her beautiful eyes gives only a glimmer of the spirit and wisdom she possesses.

              There are few people in today’s western society who would want to be this woman.  Youth is what we are taught to attempt to maintain at all costs, which, of course, is impossible.  For many years my mother worked at a retirement home, and I spent a great deal of time there.  In this ‘Old Folks Home’, there was a wonderful gentleman who had lived for 91 years by the time I had first met him.  He was proud and tall with a great white mane and dancing blue eyes.  Years before he had won the World Chess Championship.  He was very proud of his accomplishment, although rather modest.  When properly coaxed, he would bring out his scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings which heralded his playing as ‘brilliant’.

              We would always play a game, this gentleman and I.  It must be said though, that they were the most frustrating chess games I had ever played, and probably ever will.  Every time I would make a move, it didn’t matter if it was only the first move, but every time, he would say something like. “Now I remember that particular move from 1927…” He would then go on to explain to me exactly how he had bettered his opponent in that particular match.  Needless to say, I never won.  He would try to look suitably somber as he shook my hand and told me that it had been a good game, but I could see the laughter trying to sneak out from behind his eyes.  We both enjoyed it immensely, frustration and all.  He had family, but they didn’t come to visit.  Most of his friends were gone.  He would recall a visit several years before by a new Chess Champion who had come to pay his respects and have a game, but that was all. 

              He was but one of many beautiful people possessing wisdom and spirit who are forgotten, their resources wasted.  Aging is considered to be some kind of a disease, and those who catch it are said to become ‘feeble’ and ‘senile’.  It makes sense that people would want to avoid such a state;  if, in fact, this is what it means to get old.

              People look at me as if I’m not in my right mind when I say that I love aging, that my ultimate goal is death.  Now don’t misunderstand me, I plan to live to a ripe old age.  My belief is that the older you are the greater the reason for celebration.  I hope that I will become that old woman.  I’m looking forward to it.  I am not wasting my time waiting to become her though; it will never happen if I do that.  I am working hard, learning lots, living fully, and laughing as much as I can. 

              I really wonder about people who greet their birthdays with despair.  Their thoughts filled with should’ve, would’ve, could’ves…if only there was a chance to be 18 again.  What a frightening thought!  To be 18 again would mean that you’d have to live all those years over again, and when you really think about it, what would you change?  Maybe you wouldn’t have married who you did; but if you have children, they would never have been.  To change one thing would end up changing so much.  You would not end up being the same person.  Mistakes are for learning, not for regretting.  Some friends and I have added a last line to The Serenity Prayer.  It says, “And the strength to carry on”.  Everyone has another chance, not to go back but to move forward, to carry on.

              Birthdays, for me, are milestones.  I can look back and see how very far I have come.  I can see the negatives that became positives and the light of more to come.  How sad it is that so many people in this society dread and denies birthdays.  All that time wasted in the ever-elusive pursuit of youth.  All the joy in the gains and beauty of aging lost, the old neglected.

              I have another birthday coming soon…Yes, I made it!  The time between now and the future, will be extremely full, very interesting, and, as some say, character building.  If I work hard, learn lots, live fully, and laugh as much as I can…I will be an old woman rocking as the spring breeze ruffles the soft white hair…

                                                                                                     Tracey D. L. Wrixon

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