Making Ageing Well.

Ruminations is a new category we’ve recently added here at The Well Report. Its content will consist of my sundry thoughts. God Bless and happy reading!

Recently, I was asked by my professor to write about what it meant to age well. After giving it much thought, my friend Sophia came to mind. Here is what I wrote:

My definition of what it meant to age well was shallow. To me it meant maintaining aesthetic beauty. Over time, I discovered it was not limited to physical appearance, but included quality of life and matters of the heart.

Sophia was an older woman I’d met in church over 25 years ago. She had a pretty face, wore her hair dyed jet black and still had an amazing figure. She was a very popular middle school teacher whose, zany persona reminded you of Lucille Ball. Sophia attracted young people everywhere she went. It was nothing for her to hop on a kid’s skate board in an attempt to ride or giggle with some young girl about a secret crush. Most of us attributed her energetic qualities to her relationships with young people. We thought this was her secret to ageing* well.

She was someone I regularly talked to on the phone.  We’d mostly discuss her many sons and daughters who were actually former students and church members.  After knowing her for about ten years, one day she said something interesting: she told me she had talked to her real daughter. She said it in a very casual way and I didn’t probe. Over the next few years the story unfolded. Sophia had gotten pregnant while in college. Her daughter Nancy was raised by her mom. On numerous occasions she would recount incidents where her colleagues discovered that she had a daughter out of wedlock.  Even though Nancy was now a beautiful successful principal at a local elementary school, these events still seemed to haunt Sophia.

Fast forward 12 years later, Sophia was still vibrant and attractive. She talked about Nancy slightly more over the years but to very few. I was who she confided in, when Nancy had been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. She was sent to live with Sophia. She cared for her briefly before sending her to live with her brother and his wife. Nancy died a short time later. At the funeral, Sophia still worried that people would somehow discover Nancy was born out of wedlock. This made her uneasy. At the time of Nancy’s death they had not completely reconciled.

One day, I stopped by Sophia’s house  for a visit shortly after Nancy passed away.  I almost did not recognize her. Her body was frail, her skin was ashened and wrinkled. Her voice sounded gravelly and weak. She could not finish her sentences without a hacking cough. Her decline was shocking. Sophia claimed not to know the nature of her illness. A short time later she died of brain and liver cancer, just as Nancy had 17 months earlier.

Over the years she admitted to bitter and unresolved feelings and had plenty opportunities to resolve them. I learned from her the importance of making peace with your past. Doing so will prosper you on the road to ageing well.

*British and Australian spelling of ageing was used in this blog entry*