There is nothing like visiting family to make you feel old. From the grand babies that seem heavier than our kids were, to toddlers and young children who have so much energy we tire just watching them play. And then there are the middle schoolers and teenagers who amaze us with their knowledge of technology making us wonder if we know anything at all.
This came to me in a flash as I came out of the airport terminal and caught sight of my nephew who I had not seen in two years. We were coming to visit him to celebrate the baptism of his 4 month old daughter. Spotting him outside the airport terminal I ran to hug this wonderful godchild of mine who is all grown up and now a parent himself. As I pulled away from the hug I blurted out “You’re all gray!” Immediately I felt the embarrassment of my words.
“Nice hello, Aunt Loretta”
I needed to explain. While we know that our children and family members grow up and get older we don’t expect them to age. Young people aren’t supposed to age; at least not like we are. They remain young, effervescent and full of life, perpetually in their 20 – 30 year old bodies. We see ourselves in the mirror daily: the weight gain, crepe-y, sagging skin, bags under our eyes, and wrinkles where smiles have been – but that’s supposed to happen, right? When confronted with the prospect of younger members of the family aging; you realize you’ve turned into your parents and grandparents!
Having spent the last five days with my nephew and family, I realized that I like this grown up, and yes, aging nephew of mine even more than when he was younger (and more youthful) looking. While he still has that awesome and sometimes wicked sense of humor, superior intellect especially about politics, and eloquence in speech, aging has brought him an ability to look at life through different lenses as well as a patience and perseverance for life’s turmoil and mayhem.
And so have us older folks. While our bodies may have lost that “Je ne sais quoi” (French for that certain something), we have gained wisdom, faith, honesty and perseverance. And those attributes look mighty fine and are what we hope our younger family members inherit from us.
Ah, my friends. Young or “young at heart” – we are all on the same path.