Mary Beth Writes


Do you know “Women’s Older Wisdom”? You must request to join this Facebook group and I recommend you do so. WOW is hosted by Pat Taub and her page is often poignant, funny, artistic, or thought-provoking. Sometimes I post my things there to get a wider audience than I have here.

Lately Taub is asking her readers, “What have you found to be both the best and the worst aspects of aging?”

I thought about this yesterday as I drove to visit friends. If I was better at finding Bluetooth WHILE I drove, I’d listen to more podcasts and think less for myself so there’s that. Also, on my way home I got sleepy so I sang Christmas carols. Do you sing when you are alone in a car?

Anyways, I’ve been “old” for quite some time and I still can’t believe it - but I groan when I get off the sofa after binging Masterpiece Theater. I never drink coffee after 2PM. I just came through months of dealing with a garfed-up digestive system that has become remarkably “older person” sensitive. Yet in my soul and heart, I don’t feel a day over 54.

Aging, as many of us who are getting towards the bottom of our toboggan runs are noticing, is not an orderly decline done in lockstep. Aging is more like waking up to a town we recognize but don’t know. We try to negotiate this new place but soon realize we are constantly recalibrating old habits and goals in order to get around this new place.

For instance, I have become inconveniently timid in a car as either the driver or passenger. Basically, I don’t trust other people to stay in their lanes - and I’m occasionally right about this, right? My heart also beats fast at unprotected left turns on busy streets. The reality is that I’m a good driver; I’ve driven 50 years without even getting a ticket. Well, once a cop pulled me over for driving out of a library parking lot at dusk without my headlights on, but that was just lame. I’ve been in two car accidents, both fairly serious but neither was my fault. Maybe this is why I don’t trust other drivers?

Expressway driving anxiety is an aspect of aging I don’t admire or enjoy, but it’s here. How about you?

I love that here where there is less time, there is more time. We sleep later, get up later. There’s time to make better breakfasts. Today I had oatmeal with fresh cranberries, raisins, and cinnamon, and a prettily sectioned orange on the side. Then after I ate I spent 40 minutes cleaning the kitchen including inside the fridge where the cranberries had tipped over. I listened to jazz and thought about writing this while I worked. Enough time to do small things well? What a luxury.

I did not think I was a person who needed to have grandkids, but now that I have four of them, plus my two local young friends– I absolutely love having kids in my life again. There’s a reason to look at kid books in a bookstore. I’m allowed to buy cool pads of paper and markers as much as I want. Being a sidebar to the imagination and happiness of kids sparks small adventures and messy creativity for me, too. I like this.

I like that celebrating holidays is no longer my job and responsibility. I mean, prepping things so little kids learn the wonder and meanings of special days, that was cool. But I’m just as glad to no longer make the show happen. We’ve had a six-foot-tall faux tree for twenty years. This year I bought a much smaller tree and the cats love sleeping under it just as much as under a tall tree. Meantime, Len gave the tall tree away via Freecycle to a family with an iffy van and several kids and that’s cool, too.  

I’m less crotchety than I was when I was young and too often stressed. I don’t expect all the people I love and like to do things that way I choose to do them. I’m more angry at the diddly nearsighted prejudices of people who don’t like other people. I hated mustard when I was young, but I am beginning to respect the tang it can bring to the party.

It’s too easy to think we know enough now. It’s too easy to become patronizing. But this is a new town and we don’t.

“What have you found to be both the best and worst aspects of aging?”





All my life, I've loved wandering more than trying to get somewhere in particular. Walking, driving and especially reading and learning things. This has been a problem at school, at jobs, and on vacation. I am famous for 'Dad's Shortcuts.' I would rather wander the library than finish reading a textbook, or a task at work. Now that I am retired I have more time to try out things that I'll never do again, like fix an outboard, learn a computer thing or just putter. Which kind of makes you wonder what we were meant to be in the first place.

The best part of aging is learning about boundaries and exercising Paul's mantra, "If it doesn't make you happy, don't do it!" The worst part of aging is that the list of names of those that have left us continues to grow longer.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for reminding me of Paul and his often-humorous "I don't have to do that" attitude, I think once he survived my dad and Vietnam, the rest was coasting.

As we grow older, most of us have learned a thing or two... That's a good thing. On the minus side, our bodies don't always agree with everything we want to do! But retirement is a plus, if you can do it earlier, even better!! Sleeping in is beneficial! I second the suggestion on Pat Taub and her WOW site and fb group. Great conversations there!
Mary Beth's picture


Loved this article as an Older woman!!!

I identified all to much! Good read!

Because of aging (and widowhood) I have discovered that the rebel I used to be, is alive and well and living inside my aging body. It is more of a realist than It was at 22, realism that comes from a lived life. I am comfortable with myself, something I definitely was not at 22 (despite a tighter body). I don't love that I am uncomfortable driving at night, avoid highways, and am I luddite in a world that is so technology driven. I am unconstrained about other people opinion of me. Frankly, my dear I don't give a damn. I love being a grandmother. LOVE it. I embrace aging (not always well,) in honor of all those that did not get the opportunity. Be well, my friend. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

"in honor of all those that did not get the opportunity" This thought, too. I often think of my dad and sister and brother and feel so sad they did not get to live into these years.

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What Now, US Constitution?


Not sure if I wrote this post for you or for me.

I was close to the end of my volunteer shift at the Food Pantry yesterday. The morning had been tougher than usual (see the upended boxes we didn’t have time to flatten) and I was tired. Then I got this text from Len, “Don’t look at the news.”

I’ve never received anything this cryptic from Len in my life. I told my co-worker Nancy I needed to look at the news because something weird was going on.

She replied, “The Supreme Court.”

Hot Weather Diary #4


Guess what amazing thing is happening at my house right now? This has not happened in, I think, two weeks…


Yesterday evening the heat index was 100 degrees. Tonight the temperature is 70, low humidity, breezes wafting in the windows like angels’ breath.

Hot Weather Diary #3


Today was another hot one and right now, it’s still 93 degrees in my backyard.

Hot Weather Diary #2


“Time wasted at a lake is time well spent.”  (I tried to learn who wrote this; it seems to have arisen spontaneously on a Pinterest plaque for your cabin.)

There is an argument that civilization started on the banks of rivers, the oceans, and along the shores of the hundreds and thousands of lakes on our earth. Waterfront is where people and animals gather to drink, eat, cool off, and watch the youngsters while they play. Also, it’s where adults gather to chat, fish, breathe in beauty, and sometimes swim far out there where joints don’t ache and its quiet.

Hot Weather Diary #1


We all knew it was coming and here it is. A Hot Week! We are in the news! We are important! Humans around the nation, especially in the East and Midwest, will be living through a week with temps in the 80’s, 90’s and worse.

What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

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