An Inauguration For the Ages
The Letter

Old Age is Not For Sissies

[Some good friends, all met through blogging, are filling in for me while I take a two-week sabbatical from Time Goes By. Today’s guest blogger is 79-year-old Chancy who blogs (avidly) at driftwood inspiration from Georgia where she was born and raised.

She has been married for 57 years, has three children and six grandchildren, four of whom, age 4 through 12, live nearby. “I was born to be a grandma,” says Chancy, “and I am good at the job.”

I had a positive role model for aging; my mother, who never let the vicissitudes of life get her down. My father died in 1939, when I was nine and my mother was only forty- five.

Times were hard for us but she made sure we got by. No luxuries but since it was during the Depression and World War 2, I did not feel poor. Most everyone was in the same boat. We even had ration coupons for shoes. I did not feel deprived wearing the same pair of saddle oxfords and one pair of penny loafers all through high school. Scarcity was the norm during the war years.

My mother didn't moan and cry about being left a widow with a small child. She had nowhere to turn for financial or emotional support. In 1939 at age, 45, she was considered too “old“ to teach school. She had been a school teacher years before in a one-room school house. There was no demand for someone of her “advanced age” in the local schools. Besides it was during the Depression, but somehow she made do.

Later on, after I married, my mother lived with us for thirteen years. Not always a bed of roses but she was wonderful with our children, and my husband was an understanding, caring person who welcomed her into our home.

She was a positive person filled with a strong faith in life and God. She remained so until she died at the age of 91. She suffered greatly at the end, but she endured with grace and dignity.

I want "just one more day" to sit and talk with her and tell her I understand so much better now the rough times she encountered as she aged.. I am sure she would have some invaluable insight she could share with me, her 79-year-old daughter.

Since I can no longer learn from my mother, I searched the web for insight into old age. Some years back, Art Linkletter had a popular TV show. Then later, his lecture tour was entitled "Old Age Is Not for Sissies,” also the title of his 23rd book. Art was born in 1912, and is still living at age 96.

“Spend your time doing what you love. If you’re working. If you decide to retire. Fill your days with your passion. Get satisfaction. Create joy,” he says.

“Share yourself, your time and your money with others. Get involved. Nothing creates more health and happiness than doing something for others. You’ll live longer.

“Find a great family doctor. Get to know him or her. See them a couple times a year and follow their advice.”

Linkletter says his life was saved more than once by good medical intervention.

“Love your family. That is your rock. Your place of strength. Value them, love them.”

We can learn from positive examples of those who have successfully traveled the road to old age before us.

Prayer in Old Age, attributed to a 17th Century nun:

"Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am getting older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

“Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

“Keep my mind from the recital of endless details - give me the wings to come to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

“I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.

“Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with - but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.

“Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and the talents in unexpected people. And give me the grace to tell them so."

[The story bin at The Elder Storytelling Place is empty so until some new ones arrive, let's revisit some from the archive. Today, The Art of Dying from Alan G. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]


I really needed this post today. Thank you. I have printed out the prayer and have it posted near my desk so I can read it every day. Thank you

Just super!
Thank you and have a blessed day. You've started us off on one.

Art had it right; old age is not for sissies. I don't know how many times I have used that quote.

Just imagine a 17th century nun being so wise that her thoughts are just as appropriate today. I especially need to take the first two admonitions to heart. I tend to think I need to comment on everything and to have the answers. Obviously, I need to develop more humility.

I will pay attention to the other wise words of advice in your post, Chancy, for my own sake and the sake of those with whom I come in contact. Thank you for printing them.

Wonderful reading, Chancy. I need to remember this one:

“Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken."

Tomorrow I am linking to a wonderful journal written by a son about his father (age 89). You will like it!

A great source of quotes about age is "The Quote Garden."

Loved this post. Gives you a lot to think about. My mother always said love your family , protect one another and always forgive eachothers mistakes.

Cathy Warren

"...but I did not feel poor" - great insight in this statement. Comparing to others who have more instead of being content can lead to insecurity and feeling inadequate. It is wonderful to find contentment.

Loved this quote "I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others." Seems learning that lesson as I question my recollection more often as I'm aging, especially when others seem to recollect it differently.

Julie B

Just like you, I'd like to have one more day with my mother to sit and chat, so that I could tell her, just as you write, I understand so much better now the rough times she encountered as she aged.

Chancy - I love this post - thank you. I am so blessed to still have my mother and I love the last prayer piece. Thanks again

Chancy - this was an excellent post and thank you for sharing it. Like Nancy B. I also needed this today and am printing out the prayer.
Suzann, I miss my mother, so much. She died in "97 at age 83. So treasure yours and be glad she is still here.

Me, too, Chancy; thanks so much.
My Mom passed in '04 at only 77, but she was much like your Mom in many ways. Thanks for letting me remember her today.

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