My senior mom and I often laugh at the memory of the plans we used to talk about when we reached retirement age. We each thought we'd get so much done then. We'd finish projects we didn't have time to do while she was working or I was raising kids.
Now that she is in full-fledged retirement and I'm approaching that season of life, we have both come to realize a vital fact we forgot to consider. Yes, she does have a lot more free time. No, she's not getting to all those long-waiting projects, like putting every photo into a zillion albums or traveling all over the U.S.
Why not? In this season of her life, she's found that she's moving slower, needs to rest more often, has lost a lot of strength for lifting and moving, and just doesn't have the energy she once had. A trip to Walmart wears her out for two days!
Occasionally that does get her down a bit. But most of the time, she continues to set an excellent example for my kids, grandkids, and me of persevering no matter what the situation. She continues to do all her own cooking, even though it can sometimes be very tiring for her. She gets on her treadmill for 20 minutes at a time, three times a day, as much as she is able. She delights in sending just the right greeting card to dear friends and beloved grandkids for every holiday Hallmark can think up. And now she's starting to organize all the grandkids' letters into one folder per child, to help her remember what she wanted to write to them about. And oh, how our neighborhood birds love her and the birdseed she faithfully sets out for them, not to mention the sunflowers she plants for them during the gardening activities she is sometimes able to enjoy.
It's not exactly the way she planned it. But what a grand way of dealing with this season of life. I have to admit, sometimes I thing she is working too hard and try to help more than she wants. But then I consider the alternative.
Would she, or I, really want her to do nothing but sit in a rocker all day. Even though arthritis pains may make moving somewhat difficult at times, especially when the barometric pressure is really getting to her, she is staying active and happy. We've seen other loved ones take the sitting route and noticed they have many more problems with health issues.
Staying active, even when it's slow and minimal, is the best way to deal with this aging process. Allowing her to do that, while making sure she is truly safe as she does it, is the best gift I can give her. And I'm hoping to follow her excellent example, while blazing the path for the next generation or two.