Starting a post with a title like that is sure to gain some readers and generate interest, but I promise – this is NOT a post about something that you might find unexpectedly floating in your pool on a warm summer evening. Eeewwwww. No, but I promise you’ll find that this topic eventually winds itself back around to grace.
My sweet mom looked and acted younger than her years, and I made a vow after caring for her in the later years of her life that I would do everything I could in my power to age gracefully like she did. There’s the G-word again…. grace. My mom used to say “getting old ain’t for sissies“….a paraphrase from something Art Linkletter once said. If you don’t know who Art Linkletter is then you probably don’t need to be worrying about aging gracefully, but I’m beginning to understand what she meant.
There’s a phrase I keep bumping into a lot lately that is making my life very uncomfortable, and makes me feel more and more like a sissy. It’s used most often at medical appointments and usually in the context of describing why something in or on my body is deteriorating or breaking down. It’s the phrase “as we age“. It all started when I walked through the golden gates of menopause and began to seek out bio-identical treatments and the wonders of hormonal imbalance were described for me with the opening statement… as we age our bodies stop producing…..well, you get the picture.
Then again, a few years ago when I thought I was going blind. A big ol’ blur appeared right smack in the middle of my right eye, and I high-tailed it to the ophthalmologist. This blur appeared out of nowhere when I was driving one day, and then it was gone the next. Was I going crazy? One minute I was asking myself how my vision could have changed so dramatically in such a short time, and then the next I was asking myself if I was just seeing things. I was wiping spots that weren’t there off of my progressive lenses (progressive is the new hip word for trifocal’s…again, something you get to experience as we age!) and I wasn’t sure if I should be seeing an ophthalmologist or a crazy doctor.
My ophthalmologist is a brainiac, and probably reads the Ophthalmology Quarterly in his spare time, but he did give me good news. At least I think it’s good news – the news was that I wasn’t crazy. The bad news was that I suffer from a condition that is pretty common in middle-aged women called floaters. It always sounds so much more dramatic as we age if you say “suffers from a condition”, doesn’t it?
He explained that floaters in your eyes are basically gel-like thingamabobs called vitreous humor (I find nothing humorous about them) and as we age they thin, detach, and form fibers and float around willy-nilly wherever they darn well please on the surface of your eye. They’re kind of like ostriches…they have no apparent reason for being here and no purpose other than to cause people to wonder why God invented them.
In trying to keep the moment light-hearted I said to him, “so what you’re saying is that I basically have a big booger floating around on my eye?” The man had no sense of humor (which I find is an imperative quality needed as we age) nor was he amused. He did inform me that my floater was a bit artistic and beautifully shaped; more wispy than others he had seen and it swirled down and then back up with a trailing tail. How nice. At least I can rest in the knowledge that my floater is a work of art.
Well, I assumed that we could do away with this masterpiece in my eye or auction it off to the highest bidding art collector. You know….zap it with some cool laser thing or slice it off with an Exacto knife and then list it on Craigslist or something? No such luck. Surgery on eye floaters risks the detachment of the retina later on….(wait for it)…as we age…so it’s best to just live with it.
On the up side, the artsy ophthalmologist explained to me that the brain does a really remarkable thing with floaters. Eventually your brain gets tired of watching the floaters drifting about with nothing important to do all day while it has to work hard, day after day, so it eventually refuses to mentally recognize them or record that they’re there, and you tend not to notice them anymore. Kind of like accepting the flaw and refusing to make a big deal about it. My brain apparently isn’t that smart, because that still hasn’t happened to me.
Here’s my thought on floaters and grace. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could do that same thing with people? I mean, when we see something in a person that messes with our idea of what ideal is, if only we had the ability to tell ourselves that it’s not all that important to get our panties all tied up in a bunch about, and simply refuse to make them (alias a “floater” in our world) such a big deal. I know you can’t do that all the time, but in some cases it might just be life changing and save a lot of marriages and friendships.
That would be giving someone something they don’t deserve, right? Hmmm…that would be the same as grace. Can we live in a world that does that? Can we love a God who does that? He did it for me, so how can I not do it for the person in the cubicle next to me? Different doesn’t always mean bad. I say we try to find the good in others around us. Heck, I mean my floater is tickin’ me off, but hey, at least its artsy!
As a final blow in this aging chapter – I went to the chiropractor yesterday with various complaints and Dr. Chris (who is barely older than my kids) starts to tell me that when the weather is muggier and the air conditioner is blowing, or the ceiling fan is running all night,…..STOP! I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY!!!!……yep…he said it…..”as we age our bones are more brittle and susceptible to shifting and aching.” Sigh. You’re killing me, doc! I really wanted to slap the young pup, but since he’s such an awesome chiropractor I decided instead to extend him grace.
Sigh. I’m still a sissy, but I’m working on it, Mom.