Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Aging in Minnesota May 26, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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This billboard along the northbound lane of Interstate 35 just north of Faribault prompted this post about aging. FaceAgingMN is "a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the issues of aging that accompany the reality of a rapidly aging society." The group's goal is "to create a conversation about aging.

This billboard along the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 just north of Faribault prompted my post about aging. FaceAgingMN is “a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the issues of aging that accompany the reality of a rapidly aging society.” The group’s goal is “to create a conversation about aging.”

One day, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to be old.

That single statement from the FaceAgingMN website emphasizes the positive side of aging. If we weren’t getting older every day, well, we wouldn’t be here. I remember how, when I turned 40 years old, I lamented that I was so old. My friend Jenny reminded me of the alternative. That put everything in perspective. Now, 20 years later, I wish I was only forty.

I often wonder these days, with more of my life behind me than ahead—although none of us knows the length of our days—how time passed this quickly. How can it be that I am an empty nester, now a new grandma? Where did the years go?

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see the crow’s feet lines around my eyes, the sagging chin line, the creases etched deep into my skin. I see the graying hair, the added pounds, feel the aches in my back and hip.

And, most recently, when my husband and I met with our financial advisor, we thought about retirement. How much money will we need to survive? Will we have enough? What do we envision for our retirement? How did we get this old? By living, obviously.

We are at the top end of the sandwich generation with a son about to graduate from college and parents in their eighties. Financial concerns thread through all three generations.

A dear aunt sent me a letter the other day. The golden years, she wrote, are not so golden. She then listed her husband’s health woes. I wish I could make things better for her and my uncle. I wish, too, that I could bring back my friend’s husband who died of a heart attack five weeks ago at age 59. I wish my mom would be the same mom I remember before she face planted in the floor of her assisted living apartment breaking her neck and suffering a concussion some two-plus years ago.

But I can’t change these things. I can’t change aging. But I can choose to handle aging with some sense of grace and gratitude that I get to be old.

Tell me, how are you handling aging?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “Aging in Minnesota”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    You are, truly, a graceful, gentle soul!!!!! Personally….I’m still on some kind of fast-track(!),wishing that some of your “quiet quality” could be found somewhere in me. LOL! Impetuousness and “leaping before thinking”, though somewhat tempered, still come to the fore, sometimes with rather abrupt consequences. That is why the Lord causes the paths of 2 “opposites” to cross and I thank Him for your friendship!!!! Hugs……..

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I have never “felt” my age and most people tell me I look younger than my real age which is a good thing I guess. While the body is definitely not the body I had in younger years I have been blessed with good health and appreciate that. I do think that if you surround yourself with positive and younger thinking friends it helps and I try to do that. I am really not scared about growing older -at least not today. :-0

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    There we have the a definition of aging gracefully. I hear many people say, ah to be X again (inset desire ably young age). Often this is accompanied by the caveat – go back with all the knowledge I have now. I believe, as the notion of your post indicates to me, growing old is a badge of honor I suppose; a privilege. You are either incredibly lucky, made good choices or both. Just breaching my 40’s myself I am uttering the familiar complaints, but remind myself often that it could be worse. It you are completely or even mostly healthy life is good. Ride out your blessings until the final sunset.

  4. bev walker Says:

    I I have handled aging by continuing to work at my job in an assisted living facility. This population has so much to offer and have a great time most every day. They have built bonds and friendships and it is so good to witness. Every day is a blessing and I am thankful!

  5. I handle aging one day at a time – remember to love, care and make time for me – play, laugh and have some fun – not take it so serious – some much needed R&R – trust me it took me a while to just ease into this thing called life and living it. Here’s to Conquering Today – Happy Memorial Day Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Two Bible passages come to mind when I think of aging. Psalm 71:17-18: “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” And Psalm 92:12-14: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” The Bible never disparages the elderly neither does it minimize the challenges that they face. Till we draw our last breath, God has a reason and purpose for our lives.

  7. Carol Says:

    I browsed through the site on Aging and found it very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
    By the way, they’re looking for writers. Maybe it’s something you’d be interested in? You have the gift, the talent!

  8. Jackie Says:

    I’m not thrilled about getting older but yes… the alternative is much less appealing. The thing I’ve noticed most about aging is how fast time is going. I really thought it would slow down once the kids were out of the house….NOT!

  9. I definitely am not the kind who is aging gracefully, Audrey !
    And I lie about my age, too.
    This is my one of my itsy bitsy quirks in life.
    And even in death, I shall be10 years younger in the obituary! xx

  10. At 36 years of age I realize that I have almost outlived one of my parents because my father died at 41 years of age. Since my Sister passed away I try to embrace life and growing old. After all growing old is a privilege that is denied to many people. But man 40 still sounds scary

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    I’m just trying to get through menopause… I haven’t thought much about aging!! I do appreciate the wisdom that I’ve earned over the years, and I enjoy being in a much better state of mind than I was when I was younger. I suppose I have learned to relax a bit and simply roll with the punches and flow of life. What else can we do? It’s part of the journey! 🙂

  12. Sue Ready Says:

    Interesting question posed “how well are you handling aging?” The reality of being on the end of the spectrum can be sobering but for me I’ve looked it at an opportunity to make the most of each day and I’ve amped up my productivity level while health issues are not a factor.

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