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Monday, October 18, 2010

Thinking About Growing Old

It's the eve of my 50th birthday and so a little reflection on life is in order I suppose.  But what really gets me to thinking about growing old are my visits to Palm Springs.  My parents live in a mobile home community called Sahara Park.  I love this park.  I think it is beautiful and well-kept and there is a genuine spirit of real community amongst the residents. 
This is the view from the front porch swing of my parents' house.
That's their brown house on the left in the distance.
I love reading their funny little monthly newsletter and sitting by the pool between 11 am and 2 pm because that's when the best gossip ensues, although this time around, with the temperatures still quite high at midday, the 4 pm-6 pm poolside yielded good info as well. 
The pool and jacuzzi where you can all the scoop on everyone!
There's bingo on Tuesday nights, coffee mornings a couple of times a week, water aerobics every morning at 9.30, monthly pancake breakfasts for a buck, and seasonal potlucks and parties.  There's a beautiful clubhouse with a pool table, card table and large screen TV and there always seems to be a little something going on.  More importantly, the residents do watch out for one another.  Oh sure, they complain plenty about who didn't take a shower before they got in the pool and argue about whether they should fry or boil the sausage for the pancake breakfast, but when my dad needed a walker just after his surgery, someone found him one the same day he asked for it.  When an ambulance screams through the park on the way to someone in need, my parents wonder aloud who it might be and feel concerned for those involved.  In the twilight of their lives, these folks count on one another to provide a sense of belonging when jobs no longer do that.  Some have family nearby but most have retired to this warm spot and now live far from family, kids and grandkids.  Many are snow birds who enjoy an entirely separate life for half the year.  Whatever the case, I have loved getting to know the community called Sahara Park and I guess that's why I hope we live there someday.Which brings me back to my original thoughts about growing old.  I wonder when Doug and I are living in Sahara Park one day if we'll want statues all over our rock yard?  Will we decorate our mailbox?  I'm sure we'll have a dog but there's a limit on how large pets can be so Tanner won't be able to with us when we move in.  We also have to be 55 so we have at least 5 more years to consider the option!  Flags celebrating the season are also popular.  And don't forget the humming bird feeders.  The birds are fun to watch.  Just about everyone has a nice size TV and it is likely that a high percentage of residents are watching Wheel of Fortune from 7.00-7.30.  I'm sure we will too!  I just wonder what I'll be like when I'm older.  Will I be the one to complain about the folks not taking a shower before getting into the pool?  Will I go to Bingo?  Probably because I like to go with my Aunt when I'm in town on Tuesdays!  Will my house be full of clutter and stuff I don't need but can't get rid of?  To be fair, in downsizing to live in the smallish places that inhabit Sahara Park, most people have already downsized considerably, so a few pieces of memorabilia are quite all right.  I hope I'm active like the 91 year old man who can't really walk but faithfully goes to the pool twice a day to do leg exercises.  I love the men in Speedos and the women in two pieces, not because they look so fabulous, but because they are not afraid to be themselves.  I think no matter what I'll always have a two piece swimsuit.  I love my nut brown tummy too much to ever let it go!  What will it be like to grow older?  My parents have done it well in spite of the challenges of injuries, health issues, and cancer.  But their athleticism as younger adults has bode well for them in their older years and that inspires me to stay fit now.
So, on the eve of my 50th I'm feeling pretty good.  I'm not as fit as I once was but I can still move well and will start my birthday by playing tennis and hopefully winning a set or two!  I'm not as skinny as I once was, but I'm not as fat as I could be either!  I love my husband and my dog and my home in Sweden.  I'm blessed with an amazing set of parents and an in-law family that loves me and who I love too.  I love my church and feel that my vocation has been fruitful.  Life has been a big surprise.  When I was 30, I had just met Doug and we were beginning our journey together as a couple.  At 40 we'd lived in Sweden for 2 years and I never thought I'd be here to celebrate my 50th!  I never thought we'd be without kids, but that's the way the chips fell for us so we've made the most of our life by enjoying one another, pouring into other relationships and truthfully, traveling the world.
I wonder what I'll be like when I grow old.  I'll probably still be pretty opinionated, still cheer for the Angels, still hope the Vikings win the Super Bowl someday, still be a democrat, still love Doug, still want a dog, still be a little restless and hopefully still be loving God and others wherever we land. And I really, really, really hope when I grow old I land at Sahara Park.