Aging Without Becoming An Antique

To be honest about it, this article that you are reading today had its genesis over sixty-seven years ago, when yours truly was conceived and born in the year of 1951. Like you and all people who are born of a woman from the seed of a man, I have been aging since the day I was conceived and born. As the heading denotes, I want to believe that I am aging (getting older) without becoming an antique. I am using the term “antique” in a figurative way to define someone who has become so old-fashioned and out-of-date so as not to be relevant and productive in life.
I recently saw two people in one of our banks here in Dillon with whom I am very familiar. One was a woman who was nearing seventy-eight years of age and the other was a man in his mid-eighties. Amazingly, neither of them looked their age. To me, they epitomizes the point I am making here. They appear to be aging without becoming an antique. Each look at least fifteen years younger than they really are and have managed to stay busy and actively involved in some worthwhile endeavor.
Then how can I not forget to mention two great grandmothers who also exemplifies the reality of aging without becoming an antique. The older of these two great grandmothers is a youthful ninety-four years old who is a member of my church. She has found a way to remain one of our most active, involved, and faithful members in spite of the fact that she is numerically the oldest person in our congregation. I was at a Christmas dinner where the second great grandmother was the host. My wife and I had been invited to attend this special occasion along with quite a few others who were affiliated with the Dillon Herald Newspaper. This great grandmother has evidently mastered the art of aging without becoming an antique. Apart from being a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, she is actively involved in the family’s various business ventures, as well as a faithful member of the United Methodist Church.
One of my high school football coaches, along with his wife, are prime examples of people who are aging without become antiques. They are perhaps in their mid-seventies, but have retained a youthful appearance of being in their late fifties or early sixties. What is the secret to their ability to age graciously without looking tattered, torn, and tired? Though I am quite familiar with both of these educators who started their teaching careers when I was a junior or senior at Gordon High School, I have been more casually connected to and observant of the husband (who I wrote about in my column a few years ago). He has managed (through much discipline) to not only maintain a youthful facial appearance, but to also keep himself at the proper weight for his height and frame. Every time I am fortunate enough to see him, I am both inspired and a tad bit covetous of achieving what he has managed to do with his body.
When I got the idea to do this piece, the thought entered into my mind to include two of my brothers into the article. Due to the fact that both are physically exceptional and are examples of what it means to be aging without becoming antiques. First, my oldest brother, who is the first born of my parent’s ten children, is by all indications an exceptional physical specimen who is nearing his mid-seventies and can easily pass for one who is in his mid to late fifties. Other than good genes that he has received from both my father and mother, I believe my brother’s formula for aging without becoming an antique is the fact that he is not a worry wart. Though he has gone through much adversity, like the closing of a store that he owned and operated, as well as the prolonged illness of his wife of nearly fifty years (who eventually died from a terminal disease), he has managed not to be possessed and overwhelmed by either anxiety or grief. Through it all, he has been able to elude the old age syndrome and to age graciously without becoming an antique or skeleton of the man he once was.
Finally, I have a brother who is seventh in the birth order of my parents’ children who has managed to master the discipline of aging without becoming an antique. At the age of sixty-five, he is often mistaken to be much, much younger. Like in the case of my oldest brother, some of his youthful look can be attributed to good genes that enable one’s skin to remain firm and elastic. My mother is a classic example of one who has firm and elastic skin that helps to project a youthful appearance. At the age of ninety-two, her skin has retained its elasticity and firmness. However, the thing that has helped my brother to age without becoming an antique is diet and exercise. He maintains the discipline of nutritional and proper eating. This, along with the fact that he jogs eight to ten miles, five days a week when the weather permits it and walks or runs on his treadmill when he cannot do it on the road. Invariably, it is commitment to diet and exercise that has proven to be the fabled fountain of youth in his life.
My final consideration is that of a woman who I attended school with who was two grades ahead of me. Not so long ago, I conversed with her after a funeral service had ended. I was so fascinated by her youthful looks that I said to this woman, who is nearing seventy-years of age, that she was perhaps the most preserved (in appearance) woman that ever graduated from Gordon High School. My statement was not one of flattery or lust, but of sincerity and admiration to this woman whose youthful look had not faded. She could easily pass for a woman in her mid-forties. I do not know the secret to her obvious success of aging without becoming an antique, but whatever it is, it is working for her.
I believe that it is possible to age without growing old. All of us are aging, but all of us are not growing older and becoming an antique. I am aging, but I am not growing old. I believe that I am a late bloomer who is in the prime of life. My best and most productive days are not behind me; they are in front of me.