“The frost is on the pumpkin” does not always translate to mean something about temperature. To some of us, it means getting a bit “long in the tooth.”
I took a trip to the cosmetic counter simply because I was feeling a bit “frosty” and was in search of beauty and lost youth. I wrote about it, and the response was overwhelming.
Women wrote, called, and took me aside at gatherings. They wanted to talk about how they related to that piece. To sum up what most of them said… “I have been there,” “I have done the same thing,” etc.
I began asking what REALLY scared them about aging, and Snoopy (what I secretly call myself when interviewing) got some surprising and some not-so-surprising answers. I am not mentioning any names. I promised a protection program to all who spoke freely. Most of the people I talked to were worried about more than losing their looks. They were worried about what growing old represented.
Losing your memory or your marbles was high on the list. Fears about money, loneliness, disease, and loss of sexual interest were just a few of the fears that were mentioned. Many women were terrified of being alone. Some already have trouble booking a lunch or dinner with one of their children and wonder what it might be like not to be needed anymore.
Having children is not an insurance policy; many people with children are often alone in old age. It is those fears that keep us running to the colorist, manicurist, and whomever else can disguise those marching lines called wrinkles. It’s our fears that send us off to have Botox, plastic surgery, and whiter teeth than we were actually born with. But what lies under those worries? I think there is an even deeper anxiety.
We don’t want to give away our secret, the secret that is crouched and hiding, but always ready to spring forward — the secret that aging is the precursor to dying. We all, sooner or later, become aware that we are on the side of life where the sun is going down.
Death is the great wound of the universe, and the apprehension of death is the source of most of our fears, because we all know that there is no escape from it.
In this country especially, we worship youth, and talk very little about sliding off into the unknown; in fact it is rather taboo. I even hesitated about writing this, thinking some people would find it unsettling.
I remember when I did volunteer work for hospice; people told me that they just couldn’t understand how I could BE with those people when I knew they were going to die. I would say, “Why? I’m with you and you’re going to die.”
Once, I was telling a woman about a mutual friend of ours that was critically ill, and she asked me not to speak of it in front of her husband because he was the same age. Did she really think that not talking about death would make it go away? I am not suggesting that our minds should linger there, but I am suggesting that we deal with those fears, because then the intangibles become more important.
The moment of “now” becomes more exciting to explore. The soul shines through when we are content and unafraid, and that’s the part of us that I believe never dies. Accepting death might be a call to live more fully.
Superficial beauty will fade as surely as the frost will come to rest on the pumpkin. Vitality, wisdom and enthusiasm can keep your face looking young. Find something that ignites passion in your life. It might be a surer way to turn back time than all the aforementioned ones.
My mother left a note for all of us when she died. It simply said, “You kids have made me so happy.” My mom had a very hard life. So, my question is: How do we live our lives so we can end them on a note like that?