Monday, September 10, 2012

Forever Young

“Getting old,” my 83 year-old neighbor once assured me, “is hell.”

Though I’m less than half her age, I’m beginning to see her point. A click in the knee after too many stairs, a crick in the back after a morning of gardening . . . All these things are catching up with me. Are they catching up with you, too?

The way I figure it, everybody gets old and nobody likes it. Sure, with age comes wisdom, but wisdom can be hard to spot when you look in the mirror or have to tote the laundry down to the basement. And it doesn’t matter how many years you actually have on you. At the relatively young age of twenty-six, weren’t you already complaining how you couldn’t eat a plate of Grandma’s pasta without going to the gym the next day?

If my father-in-law describes himself as old, that description might be accurate. A career military man who signed up for service before World War II, he’s in his nineties, now. And life is taking its toll. We go to visit him often and when we do, we take him out for ice cream, or to count ducks from his deck. We also be sure to play lots of Big Band music when we’re gathered in the living room. After all, Big Band was the soundtrack of his youth.

Recently, while Jo Stafford’s lilting voice sang about love and happiness over soaring strings and peppy horns, I turned to my father-in-law. I said, “I heard that soldiers, airmen, and sailors loved Jo Stafford’s songs so much, you boys called her GI Jo. Is that true?”

Like Atlas, he shrugged and I could see all the cares of old age weighing on his shoulders. “I guess.”

“Did you like her?”

When I asked that question, an amazing thing happened. My father-in-law’s spine straightened. His eye brightened. Again, he said, “I guess.”

But this time, he let loose with a twenty-year-old’s mischievous chuckle—and in that moment, he was young again.

Many things can put us in touch with our younger selves. Particular music, certain movies, and of course our favorite books can turn back time in a heartbeat. But I think the bottom line here is that our younger selves haven’t left us. We’re still young in our hearts and minds no matter how much we age. And if we want to feel young again, maybe all we need to do is remember that—and listen to a little Jo Stafford.

Now it’s your turn to tell the Rockville 8. No matter your age, what makes you feel young again?


  1. I think of aging as peeling on onion in reverse. Instead of getting rid of layers, you're adding layers but your essential core remains the same.

    Sometimes I wake up and I feel the same way I did when I was 18. Then I move, lol, and my 6 mile run tells me I've put a few years between then and now. I guess what I'm saying is that I feel like me, myself, and I. Not really an age - until my age calls for attention in some manner. Er, not sure that makes sense outside of my head!

  2. Actually, my father-in-law says he feels 19 in his head so what's with all these physical troubles? That makes perfect sense to me. I don't feel my chronological age, either. And I think that feeling is what makes me love what I love.

    For instance, I love the first Harry Potter movie because when I watch it, I feel like I'm ten years old. Fourth grade was an awesome time for me and Harry's feelings about friendship and justice and learning how to interact with the wider world on your terms for the first time take me back there.

    But I'm with you. I don't feel I'm "age X" or "age Y" until I move-LOL! Still, I'm just me. Don't know that everyone feels that way...Otherwise we wouldn't have so many Oil of Olay commercials.

  3. Nicole ~ What a great post. Loved it. What keeps me young is love--being in love, writing about love, and falling in love over and over again with heroes and heroines in the romance novels I read and write. It doesn't matter if those characters are seventeen and falling in love for the first time, thrity-five and finding their soul mate, or sixty and rediscovering love for the second or third time. I adore it. The experience keeps me young and hopeful and reminds me that I'm human. ;0)

  4. Love is the Fountain of Youth, isn't it? And love is for everybody, regardless of age. Love that, Candy!

    And I think you've hit the nail on the head, speaking of hope and the human condition. Maybe that's why growing older bothers so many so much. Maybe they feel they have nothing to hope for after all this time. But growing older is what humans do. So this human is going to follow your example, Candy, and look to love!

  5. Ahh, I love this post. Music is truly amazing in that way, isn't it?

    My hubby often complains about his gray hairs multiplying with each passing month. I always argue that each of those gray hairs represents another day we're here to enjoy life -- and especially our kids. So, bring on the gray! (Besides, there's always the salon, right?) LOL.

    1. You and your hubby may be onto something, Kristina. Sometimes it seems guys are more worried about getting old than us ladies! Find some music that makes your guy feel young. Of course, you know all about music and the World War II era! Those themes play such an important part in your latest novel, BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES, don't they?

      Thanks for stopping by, Kristina!