Jesus Follower | Word Stringer | Avocado Eater

Dear Gray Hairs: Stop Yer Moanin’

Nothin’ like receiving a personalized letter from my healthcare provider to make me feel cared for. 

And geriatric. 

Dear Carrie,

The recent x-ray of your neck shows degenerative disease. Arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, is a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions your joints. 

How can you care for yourself at home? Use a cane, crutch, walker, or another device if you need help to get around. These can help rest your joints. 

You also can use other things to make life easier, such as a higher toilet seat and padded handles on kitchen utensils.

Fantastic. As soon as I slide down from my higher toilet seat I’ll pad all my kitchen utensils. I’m sure that will help my neck get back to normal.

My intentions are not to whine my way to 97, but my alarm might as well be playing “Happy Birthday” every morning for how decrepit my back feels. 

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Happy Birthday to Us!

I have an older acquaintance who is in full denial about her age. Pretty sure she’s sliced, raised and plumped her way to be higher and tighter in all the right places.

No judgment here—I’ll probably have to get my saggy eyelids done if I want to keep seeing past the age of 70. 

But after all the knives and bandages, the irony is that this acquaintance keeps getting older… keeps losing against gravity… keeps cursing her age. She knows she can’t stop time, but she comes out with her dukes up anyway. 

One day my natural optimism broke through and I accidentally encouraged her before her birthday. “Age is just a number!”

To which she immediately shot back, “If that isn’t the biggest load of crap.”

On the contrary, I had a friend who only made it to 23. He was in stud-ly shape, but I’m guessing he would have loved to deal with sagging anything. 

My closest school friend didn’t live to see 40. I bet she would have gladly dealt with gray hair in order to watch her baby grow.

And one of my closest adult friends lost her cancer battle after only 42 birthdays. In seven years of walking through it with her, she never griped about wrinkles, dark spots or droopiness. Ever. 

Perspective

Thanking God for another year doesn’t seem to be the norm in the U.S., but when we lived in Baja that’s exactly what we observed.

The majority of my friends up here dread the next decade… the next face crease… the next gray hair. 

On the contrary, Mexican culture tends to not only embrace the inevitable but celebrate the gift of another year. We witnessed prayers at birthday parties, thanking God for His grace in their lives and the blessing of being older. 

Check out Proverbs 16:31 in two different translations:

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” (NLT)

“Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life.” (MSG)

To be granted old age is supposed to be a blessing, not a curse. 

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Older

On the heels of planning this post, a bright green flyer arrived on our doorstep. Such a clever, eye-catching title they chose:

“Personal Training for Folks Over 40”

As if that didn’t hit me in the right kidney hard enough, their sweet list hit me in the left.

  • Special group classes for our over 40 clients
  • Reduce slip and fall injury potential
  • Conditioning for golf

Uno, I kinda feel like the world “folks” should be reserved for those over 80. As in, “Are your folks playing bridge tonight?”

Second of all, do you have 40 clients or are your clients over 40? #grammar

And C, since when do 40-year-olds fall into the category of needing conditioning before they play golf?

I talk big and defend my stance until I get out of bed again and my ailments mock me like a bully on the other side of a fence. 

“Buenos dias, vieja!” 

I lack the desire to jump the chainlink and slap the bully with my Spanish stick, so I roll my eyes, hobble to the kitchen and microwave my heat pack instead. 

Yes, I physically feel like an old woman, but not mentally. A clenched neck, aching back and tense shoulders all begging for some kind of reset button throw me in with the senior citizens and holds me there like a goodie-two-shoes in detention.

“I shouldn’t be here, ya know. I’m too young for this. You definitely got the wrong girl.”

My husband and I have worked with elementary kids, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students and now young adults for 34 years.

And straight out of the mouths of youth, my husband I have heard it all.

“You’re not that old.”

“Why is he bald?”

“Aren’t you too old to be able to do that?”

“You have gray hair? Oooo, bummer.”

The White Flag 

I tend to think I don’t care, but if I’m being honest, this age thing still challenges me. Especially when I’m working with high schoolers. I’m eager to permanently shift my perspective though, and of course, I’d love for you to join me, so I guess I’ll go first.

Hola. Me llamo Carrie y tengo 46 1/4 años. I walk around in pain and I don’t necessarily love getting older, but I’m grateful for the gift of another day. 

Ready to ease into a new way of looking at age? Your turn.

Has aging felt hard or easy for you?

Wanna share your age? Loud and proud, baby! 

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26 Responses to Dear Gray Hairs: Stop Yer Moanin’

  1. In my 71st year and count each day as a blessing after dealing with major heart issues so so blessed to be here. Focusing on new ministries and like others who’ve posted, hoping to see each of my 13 Grandkids celebrate those special milestones. Loving life!

    • Welcome to the “stating your age” party, Debbie! 🙂 We’re happy you’re still here, too, and glad you’re loving life! Thanks for reading.

  2. Hola Carrie—another great post! I turned 65 on my last birthday—a Medicare marker that made me officially old. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the fact that just after that birthday, it seemed like the warranty on my body expired and I started having health issues that had never been a problem before! And I definitely don’t like feeling so young in my head and having such an opposite message going on physically! It’s hard to reconcile the two.

    But when I went for an annual exam after turning 50 (also another marker that I commented on to my longtime doctor) she mentioned the number of her patients who had never made it to their 50th and how knowing that had changed her own perspective on aging. I’ve tried to keep that close to my heart and appreciate every healthy day God allows me to actively serve Him. And I will try not to moan and groan about my aches and pains as days go by, lol! It’s good to be alive and I will rejoice in that. 🙂

    • Thanks, Alison. What is it about those decade markers that seem so difficult to ease into? For some reason 50 is harder than 59? So weird but true. I feel exactly like you–young in my head but having opposite messages going on physically. I like how your doctor made a point about so many patients not making it to 50. Maybe we should make a new goal that if we feel like we need moan and groan about our aches and pains that we have to pick someone at least 10 years older to say it to. That should keep us all in check. Haha. Gracias por leer, amiga.

  3. I LOVE this post, Carrie! (Well, actually, I love all your posts 🙂 I’ll never forget a column I read years ago (when I was still young 🙂 written by a woman pondering another birthday and why people are so hesitant to share their true age. Her words have stuck with me and changed my perspective on aging. She said that if she were to admit to fewer years, she’d have to deny some of the years she’d experienced. Which years was she willing to disown? Even the tough years had helped to form her into the woman she was. That’s when I decided I’d never lie about my age — 64 and counting — because God has used them all to hopefully mold me to look more and more like Jesus. (And just to clarify, I’m not talking about chin hair 🙂

    I recently ran across this wonderful verse which has become a new life verse for me as I enter this season:

    Psalms 92:14 (NIV)
    ”They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…”

    John’s uncle put it another way: “If I’m not dead, God’s not done!”

    • Gracias, Ann. I love that woman’s example! Such a great way to look at years and ages. Thanks for sharing yours; you’re barely halfway to 128 and looking fantastic! Heehee. Great verse too.

  4. Hmmm … frankly! I don’t think about it much! I’m obviously the oldest in my Zumba class and just about the only “Gentile” ! I just love getting behind those smooth salsa gals trying to imitate their moves!
    They love me… and I love them! Just wish I knew Spanish!!
    ♥️Your blog… always!

    • Que bueno, Jeanne! Proud of you for doing Zumba. Yes, speaking Spanish would be nice, but at least you can say one word… “Zumba!” 🙂

  5. Wow! John, you and I are the same age (well, nearly–I am 3 months from completing 73 years). I am hoping to see at least our oldest two grandchildren graduate high school! They are currently 14 and 13. Carrie, after sitting on a train ride for one hour recently, I rose and had difficulty “unkinking”. I wondered out loud where the Tin Man was so I could borrow his oil can. Three people near us (about the same age category) laughed out loud and heartily agreed. I am far enough past my open-heart surgery to be back to my 30 minute morning stretching exercises and my two 2-mile daily walks, and I am grateful. I am back in my kitchen preparing pies for people celebrating everything and meals for those who are recovering from surgery or bereavement. Recently as I was getting to a standing position and a moan escaped my lips, a younger person nearby said, “You are only as old as you feel.” My response was, “Some days I feel 93 and others I feel 53!”

    • Ha ha. 🙂 Sorry about your kinks, but good job getting back to your exercise routine! So kind of you to cook and bake for people in your life. I wish I had more time to be able to do that, but someday I’ll get back to it. Hope today is a feel-good kind of day.

  6. Great post, Carrie. A friend and I were just talking about all our gray hair and what brought it on!! This is a very good way to look at it and be thankful!

    • I am generally healthy and was never too bothered about age until I went to the OB with my first pregnancy at age 38 and was promptly slapped with the “geriatric pregnancy” label. Say, what?
      I may have had my boys later than I was “supposed” to, but now people are shocked when I say how old I am. 😁
      Working with the senior population for most of my career also influenced my perspective on aging. Grumpy and old or cheerful and old is a matter of the heart.

      • I don’t think “geriatric pregnancy” should be a legal term. Maybe for Sarah in the bible, but not in this era. That’s cool that you have a different (and probably healthier) perspective on aging. I’ll vote for cheerful and old. 🙂

  7. I’m Eileen, I’m 50 1/4, and I am young at heart, young at mind, and my tendonitis in my left shoulder has made me feel 80 the past 6 weeks. Sigh. My son is almost 12, and I want to feel young still. Gotta get this tendonitis back under control, so I can get back to my barely there exercise.

    Love your posts,
    -Eileen

    • Hi, Eileen! Good on ya for being brave and stating your age. I have tendonitis in my shoulder too! Fun times. The last time it acted up, my Dr. said it would be about 3-6 months of pain and then it would go away. She was right, but I didn’t do my exercises as I should have. Your “barely-there exercise” comment was classic. Thanks for chiming in!

  8. I’ll turn 74 this year, born the same summer as four presidents in 1964: Bush, Clinton, Trump (born a few hours after Bill Clinton…our mothers, in labor at the same time, so a lot in common.) 🙂 I too am thankful for every day, Carrie — for my healthy mind & body, and my gracious God who has allowed me to live more years than my parents and grandparents. I am one grateful great-gramma, who prays continually for friends, many younger, who would love to move without pain, breathe without effort, see and hear well, attend their grandchildren’s weddings, and have an impact on the next generation. I encourage those of us who can, to keep these “folks” and each other in prayer, and find ways to serve those needing a helping hand. We’re in this together. Bless you, Carrie, keep preaching it — we all need loving reminders. <3

    • Thank you, Sandi. Great points! I loved your last point the most… find ways to serve those needing a helping hand! Sometimes I seriously need to get my eyes off my own issues and focus on loving someone else.

  9. 44 years old and happy to be alive, missing parts and all. Went gray (or is it grey?) in my 20s and didn’t try to hide it. Had a younger woman tell me she knew I’d be a great Bible study leader the second she saw me, “because of Proverbs 16:31.” I had to look it up and then I laughed…side benefit of being prematurely gray. (Grey?) Perspective is everything!

    • You’ve been through a lot, Nicole, so you have a better perspective than I. So kind of that younger woman to affirm your gray, essentially calling you wise!

      I read a trick about gray vs. grey a while back that helped so much. The American spelling goes with A, and the European spelling goes with E. I’ve never forgotten it, but I still need help with so many others. After learning Spanish and then teaching English… wow. Such dumb rules we have. 🙂

  10. I’m 70 years old and just started going to the gym 3days per week and working with a personal trainer! I feel great! The pain in my knees while walking or climbing stairs has almost disappeared. I guess there is truth in “use it or lose it”!

    I recently read a quote I love “the things i take for granted someone else is praying for”. Really helps my perspective.

    • Great job, Donna! Good quote to remember; thanks for sharing. It’s true… there are people my age who can’t even walk, so I will continue to give thanks.

  11. I’m 73 and I’ll tell you what it’s like to get old . . . just as soon as I get there. In my early 40’s I prayed that I would live long enough to see all of my kids graduate from high school. As of this coming fall, all but 2 of my 7 GRAND kids will have gone to college. My best advice as you go through the aging process is to encourage other by discussing your blessings and all of the good things God has done for you.

    • Haha… nice comeback, John. I like your perspective! I am a natural optimist, so discussing my blessings wouldn’t normally be difficult, but it’s getting harder to ignore the pain. We press on though!

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