Expiration Date


Wow. Did I ever really look that fresh?

Wow. Did I ever really look that fresh?

My Dad, a very wise man, used to say lots of pithy things like, “No one gets out of this life alive.”  and “Getting old stinks, but it sure beats the alternative.”

He also used to say, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”

I used to roll my eyes and grimace.  I was young.  I was an idiot.

For a long, long time, I fully embraced the philosophy of the young, believing my life to be at least 10,000 years long and sure that I was basically untouchable by the fates.

I don’t know why I didn’t smarten up when young friends of mine died.  A 14 year old classmate died of leukemia. A 26 year old very close friend was killed by a random bolt of lightning on the beach.

Why didn’t I start to realize then that life is a short and beautiful journey? Why didn’t I come to understand that every life, animal or human or plant, comes with an expiration date?

I don’t know.  But I didn’t.

Now, of course, I am older and wiser.  Parts of my body hurt on a regular basis. I pay attention to my diet and my bowels and my posture.

Now I take medication to lower my blood pressure.  I have been told that my cholesterol is creeping up a bit, and that my blood sugar could use some tweaking.  I should be eating more vegetables and fish, more tofu, more quinoa.  I should be avoiding salt, and white bread and pasta and processed sugar.

I should definitely be cutting down on the alcohol and the caffeine.

I should.

But here’s the thing.

Even if I become a marathon running vegan tea totaler, one of these fine days, my time will run out.

Like everyone else, I come with an expiration date.

So the question that I am now wrestling with is this one: What do I give up in the pursuit of more life?

I want to be alive and vibrant when my grandchildren (hopefully!!!!) are born. I want to be a fun grandma.  I want to dance at the weddings of my sons, just as I did at the wedding of my daughter last month.  I want to be around long enough to travel, to buy that RV that Paul and I keep thinking about.  I want to see the Grand Canyon.

I’d like to live long enough to see my tiny baby spruce trees grow to at least the height of my shoulder.

But.  I don’t want to make it my life’s goal to wring out one more day or week or year.  I don’t want to give up things I love, like good pasta and a delicious grilled steak and a great cold glass of prosecco.  I don’t want to spend my time worrying about my blood sugar when I could be enjoying home made chocolate ice cream.

Life is not to be treated lightly.  I love mine, and I’d like it to go on for quite a while.  But I don’t want to spend what time I have left obsessing about death.

I won’t mind if I die while my friends are still around. I won’t mind if I die while I am still able to lift a glass and sing a round of song.  I won’t be sad if I go out with a wonderful meal in my belly.

I guess I think that life for older folks is a balancing act. We don’t want to be irresponsible, or to throw away the gift that has been given to us. But we don’t want to forgo all pleasures in the hope that we can bargain with the devil and gain ourselves eternal life, either.

It may be too late to die young, but at least I hope that I will die with my joy intact.

Pass the ice cream please.  Yes, I think I will pour some Kahlua over mine.

14 thoughts on “Expiration Date

  1. ‘Love your writings, they never fail to bring a tear to my eye. This one got me at the opening. They were two of my Dad’s favorite lines as well! I too have the same wishes for seeing my children marry and play with their children. My oldest is finishing school and embarking on his career on the opposite side of the continent!@#$% My other has just found a new sense of freedom in driving. I am glad I stumbled upon your blog! I relate to your feelings and thoroughly enjoy it.
    Remember- you can stay young as long as you keep that youthful spirit in your heart!

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    • Thank you so much, for your very kind words and your good advice.
      For the first time in my life, I’m trying to grasp the fact that I’m no longer totally healthy and hearty. I keep wrestling with how much of that I can control and how much I need to accept as a part of life.
      Good luck with your adjustments to the new phases of your childrens’ lives; it sure isn’t easy to let them go!

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  2. I spent the day today with my cousin and her family. She is 12 years younger than me. Alot of time was spent in my upstairs hallway where I have hung pictures of our shared family. Turns out that my cousin’s daughter shares my aesthetic about decor and fashion. I hope this kid continues with her interest because she has no idea how much stuff I’m housing. she requested to see my basement and wants to forgo the Columbus Day soccer tournament to participate in my yard sale. I’m blown away. Who knew. I have been seesawing about “unloading” and I need to lighten my load. As you said, ” the thing is I’m not ready”. I love my stuff. Among other things, I like food, I like preparing it, I love flowers, I like arranging them. I love entertaining. And I’m the sister to the 26 year old that died at the random act of nature. Today I felt alive and engaged in my life. thank you Karen for the reminder.

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  3. I am right here with you! Right now, I’m experimenting with not drinking wine at all, as I’m on the lookout for the sugar demon in general. I have to admit, being sugarless feels good. But like I said, it’s an experiment. I recall sipping a nice glass of wine on the porch with my husband feeling really good too. Luckily, the choices are ours for the making!

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    • We’ve been trying to eliminate sugars, too. Both of us have arthritis, and we know that sugar is so inflammatory. But Paul has an ice cream fixation, and for me its the wine. That’s where I’m trying to balance things out. As you say, we are so lucky that the choices are our own! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. And here I just started Weightwatchers! It struck me that there are no fat, old people around, and while I am not interested in wringing every nanosecond of breathing out of this life, I, too, would like to go out still healthy enough to enjoy it.

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    • Good luck with Weightwatchers! I most definitely should join again. I had good luck with losing about 25 pounds several years ago by using WW on line. Now I keep telling myself that I know what to do and how to lose the weight, I just need to do it!
      Hard to do in a world that contains things like brie cheese and oreos…..sigh……

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  5. I read this the day after Robin Williams’ suicide and I think it touched me even more as a result. I agree whole-heartedly that life should be lived, not lived through. Both of my sisters are gone and one day I will too. I don’t do stuff to excess because I agree with your dad — all things in moderation (and the other half is right too!)

    My dad was full of sayings like that — I swear I would give my right arm to hear them again.

    Lastly, I thought of you when I saw the playground cartoon on this site. You’ll love it:

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    • Hahaha! Oh, I love the cartoon!!
      And its funny; I heard about Robin Williams shortly after writing the post, and I truly got chills.
      I feel like I have lost a good friend.
      The last time I felt such sadness over the loss of a “celebrity” was when John Lennon was killed. Certain people truly touch our hearts and souls, and these were two of them.
      I’m even more determined now to live my life to the fullest, and to make sure that I pay attention to every beautiful moment.
      I bet our Dads are friends in the next place……

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      • I’m sure our dads are friends, too.

        I was touched by John Lennon’s passing, too. Also senseless, too soon.

        I need to remember to live a happier life, too. It is up to me.

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