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On Getting Old

I read the book, the same one years earlier
I had so enjoyed and was unable to put down.
But now my eyes are dim and it takes longer to read,
to comprehend, to turn the pages;
I must read in fits and starts and go back to reread.
Do I enjoy the book more the second time
or does the act signify I am closer
to one end of life than the other?

old-hands-600

I read the book and glimpse the hands that hold it
and see the skin, once so smooth and taut.
Now it seems that every cell is pronounced;
the appearance is like woven cloth
or a hand-made quilt
But then I remember my grandmother's skin
and I smile because it was those arms
covered by that skin that ever welcomed me.
And now I am becoming the her I wanted to be!

I read the book and take in the descriptions.
I can no longer identify with the youthful, innocent, beguiling
heroine as much as I would like.
It is the fading generation to which my self-description
has been relegated,
But I like that too.
Is not that the one to whom others turn for expressions
of sagacity and experience?
Does not that turning almost prove there has been a life
lived wisely?
I read the book which tells of joyous prospects and dreadful pains,
of agonies and glories, of triumphs and defeats
and realize I have a story for each.
I am a bit amused and bemused but ever glad I have taken the
journey.

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I read the book and, like the vaunted hero,
I too have in my way been to the other side and back
and am closer to making that final sojourn.
But is not such a stop merely transitory?
Surely, we start over again. . . . There is genesis and regenesis.
We have been many lives:
We are Past and Future--Present is for fun!

Old Age then is really glorious, radiant,
not so ambivalent as we used to think,
not so scary or dreadful.
It is an invitation to something new,
something we scarcely dare to contemplate,
something we have been taught to anticipate
with fear and loathing and about which
we are most apprehensive, but when
Old Age arrives, we are not quite certain when it got here.
If we but consider that we have been getting older
from the beginning,
then we are as easily forever young as old.
The end and the beginning become indistinguishable.
The infant and the octogenarian are one and the same.

Old Age should fill us with pride.
The young become an extension of ourselves.
There is no death, only transition,
only a legacy of deeds (good ones we hope),
the ones for which we have long striven
and so generously bequeath.

I read the book and read of my end
but also of my new beginning!

Rosemary Jenkins