Friday, March 02, 2012

Age Discrepancy - Eleanor Shepherd

This month I will receive my first pension cheque from the government.  I am having a difficult time accepting that.  It is not that I don’t want the money.  Who does not welcome money coming in?  What I am struggling with is what this says about my age.  How can I be old enough to qualify for a pension?  I always thought pensions were for old people and that is where the rub is for me. 
I have discovered a significant discrepancy exists between what all of the official records indicate my age is and what my self-image perceives as my age.  Even when I look in the mirror and know that staring back at me the face of someone who must at least be in her late fifties, I see a thirty-five year old.  Reality attests how ridiculous that is when cold facts affirm that my daughter is that age and my son five years older. 
I suspect it is fear of what being old means that holds me captive to this irreconcilable cognitive gap.  If I am as old as all of these documents attest, that means that most of my years are behind me, and I am not sure that I have accomplished all that I had hoped and dreamed of doing.  My fear is that life has passed me by when I was not looking.  Is it too late?  Will I never become all that I was going to be when I grew up?
So many years were spent in waiting:
·      Waiting to be old enough to do the stuff that the older kids did, 
·      Waiting to be old enough to drive a car, or vote, or have a boyfriend,
·      Waiting to meet that special young man of my dreams to come into my life,
·      Waiting for him to ask me if I would marry him,
·      Waiting for our wedding day to finally arrive,
·      Waiting to find out that the child I longed for so much was on the way,
·      Waiting for the children to reach the next stage in their growth and development,
·      Waiting until my daughter would grow up so we could experience that unique feminine companion of mother and daughter
·      Waiting for the moments to write so my first book could be completed, in the midst of all of the activities of life
·      Waiting for a publisher to accept my manuscript when it was finally completed
·      Waiting for the medical breakthrough that will heal my son’s quadriplegia
·      Waiting to become a grandmother and know that my line would continue after I am gone
In all of the years of waiting, did I lose sight of the way life was slipping away from me?
            I have come to realize I am now all grown up.  I no longer have to wait for events to happen.  Perhaps the years bring the wisdom to know that in the course of time, those things that I most desire may come or if they never do, the world will not end.  I can choose how I respond to the events of life.  If what I desired does not materialize, life can be good anyway. 
            Does this choice to accept the inevitable make me passive and keep me from striving to become all I want to be?  I know that I must work through the conflict I feel about my age and my longings.  I am the age that my birth certificate tells me I am.  However, I still have a future.  What I really need to decide is not whether I will become all those things I wanted to be – rich and famous and beloved by all, or whether I will choose to become someone who leaves a legacy after I have gone, by my imprint on the lives of others. 
            Maybe I have achieved my goals.  I am rich, not necessarily in money, although compared to how most of the world lives I have more than my share of material prosperity.  I also have the riches of relationships with so many wonderful people all over the world.  All l need to do is open my Facebook page and see how blessed I am. 
            I may not be famous in the way that I dreamed of, having my name become a household word to millions.  Nevertheless, my name is valued in my household.  My husband has proven his love and loyalty as together we have walked through good days and bad for forty-two years.  My children consider me their friend and choose to be with me when they have other options.  They believe in me and encourage me.  If in their eyes I am famous, that is enough.   Even the cat, follows me around and settles down beside me as I work.  To her I am a Very Important Person. 
            I may not be beloved by all and that is not surprising, in that at times my words and actions are less than loving and could not elicit a loving response.  In some circumstances, the difficult and unpopular decisions I have to make create tensions with others. 
  However, I know God always loves me unconditionally.  He is the One who has determines my value whether I am six or sixty-five.  When I begin to understand His perspective I think I might be on my way to resolving that discrepancy between my age and my image. 
Winner of 2009
Word Guild
Award of Merit
Human Interest Story
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Christian Leadership





Peter Black said...

Eleanor, I'm sure that many of your poignant ponderings echo those of our own hearts who have reached that age and station threshold. It is a great time to review our life's journey, so far, with grace gratitude and to face the future with courage and fortitude.
Somewhere in my headspace I'm stuck at twenty-five, but my body is all of its close to sixty-seven years.
I thought of Pslm 90:12,14: Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom... Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Elizabeth said...

Beautifully put. You are still full of such vitality and have the added bonus of bringing experience, wisdom and perspective. And you're a Very Important Person to me. ;) Happy birthday and thanks for sharing how gracefully you are transitioning into a new year.

Gillian Fisher said...

Eleanor, I read your blog while I was at work today and it has been on my mind ever since. When I reached the magic age to be paid a pension I looked upon it as an achievement and some thing that I had merited by living so long! It is not an indictment of old age - though even that definition has changed now. Yes, life consists of a lot of waiting but it shouldn't be to the exclusion of a daily enjoyment of life. Getting a pension is just another one of those things that comes along in the great scheme of things. Remember all you have achieved - be thankful to God for what you still have - life itself, physical fitness, the ability to work, the job one has, how one's children have turned into responsible human beings and as believing and practicing Christians when life itself finally is done we have so much more to which we can look forward. We know our chronological age and the face in the mirror do not match the age we feel but it is still a good place to be - we can't see our face from the inside so let us live how we feel. God bless you and yours.

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