Here is What Your Parents Did not Tell You When you were Young

From the unexpected surprises of aging, including quirky hair growth and reflections on the passing of friends, to the challenges of staying fit in a sedentary world, this introspective piece delves into the realities of growing older.

Here is What Your Parents Did not Tell You When you were Young
Photo by Sai De Silva / Unsplash

There are some things you learn the hard way because adults are too scared to tell you when you are a kid.

"Are you lost?" Soliloquy—I said this while looking in the mirror one morning. I was talking to a single needle-straight, perfectly white hair sticking out above the rest of my perfectly black and bushy eyebrows. I noticed funny shades of gold, brown, grey, and white hair growing in places like my ears, nose, and beard almost overnight. Sometimes, they intentionally sprouted in areas on my face that should not typically grow hair. These seem like signs of me approaching the threshold of becoming an elder.

Apart from my vanity, a trait I attribute to the extended Paige family, there was the less funny side of growing older. A good friend, a lady I learned about through one of my classmates, passed away the month before the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. My classmate told me, "Our parents are at the age where they are dying, and we are approaching the threshold of becoming elders." It was not something I thought of, even though my daughter often reminds me I am old like Methuselah. My mother passed away 28 years ago in September of this year (2021).

Please warm-up first

She was right. Our youngest children are now teenagers, and the oldest are adults. Apart from abnormal hair growth, we cannot start working out without a solid warm-up at the gym. Feeling energized and suddenly doing ten push-ups without a warm-up put me in bodily pain for a week. A close friend of mine, similar in age (between 40-60-haha), exercises but struggles with niggling injuries from tennis, golf, or just getting out of bed too fast.

A sedentary life does not help us with this aging process. Sure, we love the authority of working in the office as executives and exercising our fingers on a keyboard. But it's killing us. I recall seeing older people with their walking sticks climbing the hills of Lisbon, Portugal. They were still fit because to get anywhere—Grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant, to visit a friend or family—it's often easier to walk than to drive the narrow cobblestone streets. Today, like so many in this southern part of the US, I drive my car everywhere. Most roads are not designed to encourage walking. Much of my neighborhood lacks continuous sidewalks. I should write about the reasons why in another post.

Walking is an easy exercise.

I walked 22,000 steps in one day. That's about 11 miles (17.7km). That was all city walk up and down hills and steps. I had not done that many miles in decades. Yet, it felt great. We need to move more and eat quality, wholesome, unprocessed food. I want to make every minute of this journey to becoming an elder a joy and adventure. Besides, I compete with my deceased grandfather, who lived 100 years and three months. If he can do it, I believe I can, too. As my grandmother would say, "Time will tell."

As my classmates and I approach this incredible and sobering threshold of life, I hope we have fond memories of our elders. Much of my knowledge about living is learned from verbal memories with my older family as they expressed how they reacted to life's challenges. In this post, I wrote about my uncle, who passed away recently. We watch the generations renew us in the circle of life—babies from my younger cousins replace the passing ones. My friend's daughter had a baby a few months after she passed, as if grief led to replacement. Make the best of what you have.

Senior caucasian man holding blank empty banner covering mouth with hand, shocked and afraid for mistake. surprised expression
Photo by krakenimages / Unsplash

Wonderful Memories

We could complain about so much, but as a friend said, focus on your reaction to life's events and don't stress too much about the things you can't control. Reduce your stress to live a longer and higher quality life. Tell the people you love all about the beautiful memories you have of them. Spend time with the ones who boost your spirits. Many of us still chase something to give us validation or meaning in life. These could be the career, sports car, trophy husband, or we pretend. Hopefully, we will get to the point when we figure out what truly matters.

As you can tell from the fact that I wrote this post, I have come to accept most of the grey or white hair is slowly taking me over. Mostly. After all, I am still a Paige. I often laugh at myself and with friends and family who are going through this transformation. It's strange how we remember events from our youth like yesterday. We must remember that we must warm up before we do anything strenuous. I still maintain that aging in life is lovely, scary, and often hilarious. Enjoy it.