When I read that my friend (we’ll just call her Suzy Q) was going to be doing a bike-a-thon to raise money for children’s cancer, I was very impressed. She’s 73! I turned 60 this year, have pretty severe osteoarthritis, and have had so many injuries that I’ve pinky promised my doctor I will never hop up onto a bike that’s not a 3-wheeler again. (True story, friends). So my friend Suzy Q made me feel like a wimp with her bike-a-thon endeavor! Here I am 13 years younger than her, and she’s going to do a bike-a-thon! Whoa. I was impressed.
Okay, I was just a little bit jealous, too. There, I said it.
A few days after the bike ride fundraiser passed, Suzy Q called me and told me that she’d actually fallen head first off of her bike, broken a vertebra, and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. She could hardly walk.
Well, I was only one of her many friends who stopped by to do whatever was necessary to help out, and we had a good visit. We always do. I made sure I told her that her efforts to participate in this fundraiser were quite impressive, and then I confessed my jealousy of her confidence at 73 years of age. (I also confessed that my first thought was, “What the heck is she thinking?”) Only, in the spirit of full disclosure, “heck” might not have been the word I used.
Between 10 years in the Army, all of the physical demands over those years, and the injuries I sustained during them including a broken ankle while repelling off of a building, coupled with my childhood, and then adulthood years of competitive Irish step dancing, and then of course my nursing career… Well, let’s just say I don’t exactly jump outa bed in the morning and take off as quickly as I used to! (By the way, Suzy Q? She’s also an RN).
And I can’t forget about my recent orthopedic surgery visit to check out my knee injury and get the results of my MRI. I was expecting that I’d torn my meniscus or SOMETHING! But no. When I asked Dr. Cavanatto if I needed a meniscal repair, he just looked at me sadly and said, “Nope. Your poor knee is just all worn out.”
“All worn out?” I asked. “Yes. All worn out.”
So that’s it. I have to live with this arthritis. (Ya’ll, arthritis hurts!)
Suzy Q and I laughed during our visit, and she said something to the tune of, “I get up, and I think I can just keep doing the same old things I’ve always done, and I don’t realize I cannot do those same old things until I’m majorly injured, and then I remember – I’m old.”
That same week, my grandchildren were here and my adorable, most handsome grandson in the whole wide world (I know, I’m a little biased), asked me after I went very cautiously down the stairs behind him, “Gummy, are you slow?” I chuckled. “Yes. Gummy hurt her knee,” to which Owen then responded with a followup question, “Is it because you’re old?” Another chuckle. “Probably, yes.” And then he very matter of factly told me, “Well, you can’t play kick ball then, because you have to be fast to play kick ball, and you are very slow, Gummy.”
Thank you, Owen, for not just your honesty, but for those profound words of wisdom.
Suzy Q and I decided that we needed to be in closer contact from now on. Perhaps we might even need to remind one another daily, just like Owen very truthfully reminded me.
You are NOT 25. You are SLOW, and you are OLD, and you CANNOT do these things anymore! (I sound like Nemo’s Dad, Marlin).
And then we agreed that in between our frequent phone calls to remind each other that we are no longer spring chickens, that we would just promise to take more frequent looks in the mirror to remind ourselves that we’re not 25 years old.
So here’s your reminder Suzy Q, and you too, Carrie, and Susan, and Joyce, and Nancy, and Deb, and Linda, and Edna, and Mary, and all my other fun friends. Ladies, you’re not 25 anymore!
But ya know what? There’s a whole lot of things we CAN do now, that we might not otherwise have thought to do, had age not slowed us down. And getting older is a gift.
Psalm 71:18 says “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
I can do that! And so can you, ladies!
I’ve got three littles I love so much, and I’ve got some young people in my life I cherish. The friends a generation ahead of me have poured into my life, and showed me how to pour into others’ lives, so I’m going to remember that I can’t jump on a bike, or run a marathon, or participate in a kickball game. But I can encourage the single moms, the widowed wives, the young women who are struggling through the toddler years, or the new Christians just opening up their very first Bibles. The knee, and all of the rest of the aches and pains I’ve accumulated? Eh. So what. These knees have bounced two baby boys, danced many, many treble jigs, gone on hundreds of adventures, and Lord willing, they’ll bounce a few more grand babies on them some day.
But until then, I’ll peek more frequently in the mirror to remind myself I can’t dance any more jigs, and I’ll call Suzy Q every few days so that she remembers she’s not 25 anymore either.
Let’s start replacing our “cannot’s” with “cans,” shall we? Honestly, I think between that and a slice of cheesecake, we just might change the world! (Or at the very least, solve a few of it’s problems!)
“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
1 Timothy 5:1-2