At 63 years of age, I will be the first to admit that I am not in great shape. Overweight, achy and inclined to comfort over activity, my boomer body has seen better years. However, some parts of my anatomy are still important to me.
These are my hands. Most of my life, people have complimented me on my hands. I have always loved rings and used to wear more on my other fingers and thumbs. Now I look at them and see the ravages of arthritis and the old lady veins and spots and wrinkles. When did this happen?
It happened as I held multiple plates of food when I was a waitress,then punched register keys as a store clerk. Then I had children and the hundreds of diaper changes and baths helped the aging process. And I held 4 sets of tiny hands through parking lots and street crossings. Thousands of dishes washed, flowers planted and laundry folded left their mark. My years as a nurse added to the drying and wrinkling process as I washed my hands dozens of times each day.
But all of this is fine with me. What my hands really show is a life well-lived. A life in which I had jobs, had children, had a home to care for. These hands worked and loved and prayed for all of my life. I earned them. One of my favorite signs reads “May my hands be swollen from giving Grace”. Amen.
I have my mother’s beautiful thick, dark hair. Or at least, I used to. While fighting the arthritis in my hands, the medication has caused me to lose some hair (actually, quite a bit). So no longer can I gather my hair in my hand and feel how thick it is. I won’t lie—that hurts. Not the least because my maternal grandmother and aunt both had very thin hair—almost balding. So, it scares me. My mom battled breast cancer, including chemo that made her hair fall out, and it still grew back thick! Where am I going to land on this issue?
However, I have one up on my mom. Her hair began to turn gray in her mid 30’s—mine is still pretty dark with strands of gray that are most evident in the sunshine. As with my hands, I don’t really mind—I earned these gray hairs and will never give in to coloring them. Four teenagers and many late-night prayers gave me these and I wear them proudly!
Along with my hands, my eyes have always been one of my best features. Now, however, there are fine wrinkles around them (and around my mouth). I can’t really complain about these signs of aging because they come from such a good place.
These are smiles that I gave to a handsome young man whom I loved and married. These are belly laughs at the antics of toddlers; chuckles when a 10-year-old decides what they want to be when they grow up; and hoots of laughter at the stories my teenagers brought home about their day.
Mostly, they are signs of a life full of love. Of tender smiles at sleeping babies, tears of joy at weddings and giggles with a man I still consider the most important person in my world.
OK, don’t get excited—no one needs to see my belly, so there will be no pictures! Suffice it to say that I have carried 4 beautiful children in this belly that stretched to accommodate each of them. After that, it never quite returned to normal, but that’s OK—neither did I! The process of pregnancy and childbirth is so magical, so humbling and so awe-inspiring that I am only sad that I am too old to do it again! So, I will wear this belly with pride, and remember what an important part of my life it was.
I will wear this lumpy, wrinkled and worn body with pride and as a sign of life still to come. Because it is not worn out yet!