I was out visiting my sister having some very fun alone sister time. While sitting having coffee on her back porch, paging through The Kansas City Star, this ad “appeared”. Actually, I hadn’t thought much at all that I will “only leave once”, as my life is rather focused figuring out how to live, love, learn and leave a legacy – or at least be more fabulous and a better life coach.
Maggie Newcomer (no you cannot make this up) is the Licensed Funeral Director who will help you at AraCremation to plan ahead for that one special exit — they have actually trademarked the saying “You only leave once”. Somehow I started laughing and couldn’t stop.
People are geniuses at marketing aren’t they? Any and all troubles, thought about or imagined issues, seem to have great ready-made solutions. Except when you reach your 60s, you know it isn’t so. New comfortable but glamorous shoes, lip wrinkle eraser, the new clutter catcher for between your car seats, an additional grandchild, or tickets to your favorite band from the 70s, (see Cathy’s piece on this one) may ease some disappointments in life — but life still hurts and does so in some fresh new ways as you age.
Actually I do find that my friends and other fabulousover60 women are more than realistic about what is ahead and what is before us. We are a generation of planners, doers, and organizers. We were the first generation who went from hiding it all from the neighbors to shouting we are WHATEVER and PROUD OF IT. We relish reality and are shocked by the unevolved among us still not taking personal responsibility for their life.
We are all a little bit of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Martha Beck, Justice Sotomayor, the Pope, and Abraham Lincoln — many of us have read more self help/self love books and articles than any sane person should. We are not going to go out like our folks – in denial. We emptied their houses held on to too long, and swore we weren’t doing that to our family/friends when we pass away. We are not denying reality. We are on top of it.
But the thing is this: while we are better psychologically prepared for aging, many are still sad it is happening. We are doing it differently, but it is still happening — which is conversely funny and absolutely terrifying. I think the best thing we can do for each other is to “be real” as we started to say back in the 1970s. We need to step up and recognize, support and listen to each others freak-out stories about aging. Recognize how upsetting our friend found visiting her fast fading cousin in hospice and agree it was a nightmare. Recognize and admit to being ambivalent and understanding about what life will be like for a friend, without a spouse, a best friend, or beloved pet. Recognize that more “little falls and accidents” go with the territory as do going to more funerals than weddings.
Being present and supportive to/for each other is the bandage and ointment we need to get back to laughing, enjoying the great things about aging (wisdom and acceptance) – and if we work at it – serenity. Fabulous women know how be totally realistic and yet believe in the magic of life. After all, we have always known from our parents’ generation “we only live once,” but we now know from today’s marketing geniuses and The Kansas City Star “we only leave once” too!!
Patty Gill Webber