Appreciating the gray

For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to appreciate something that has bothered me for a long time — getting older.

My fifties haven’t been an easy decade for me. I’ve had to deal with a number of crises and unpleasant medical procedures. I’ve struggled with doubt. I questioned whether the beliefs and self-image I formed as a teenager have helped or hindered me.

Now that I’m past the halfway point of my fifties, I’m starting to appreciate what a gift I’ve been given to have reached this age. I have outlived my father. Unlike my mom, I’ve remained healthy and active. I’ve watched my children grow up and start lives of their own. I’ve gotten to be with my first grandchild, something neither of my parents experienced. I think of those who didn’t make it this far, the times my life could have ended but didn’t, and friends who recently died.

None of the days I’ve had before today were guaranteed. Neither are the ones ahead. That’s why I want to make every day count.

I don’t want to waste time regretting past decisions, wishing I was thinner or had fewer wrinkles, or holding grudges. I don’t want to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” because, frankly, they weren’t that good. I may talk about things that happened at Reseda High School forty years ago, but there’s no way I’d go back to being a shy, insecure, lonely, pimple-faced, off in La-La Land teenager with ridiculous sideburns and no fashion sense. Even with things as they are, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here and right now. Hey, we can order coffee from our smartphones!

I accept that as I get older, I will need more invasive medical procedures, the list of things I can physically do will get shorter, and I will get closer to my death. Yet, as long as I am alive, there will still be things I can do, even if it is just being present with the people I love. There are new things to learn and new experiences to discover. Every day really is a gift, even those that involve a catheter.

Like any gift, I am grateful for it. So, I appreciate the gray and hope I’ll be living with it for a long time to come.