Agatha Christie said that if you marry an archaeologist, the older you get, the more interesting he will find you.

It’s a little late for me to marry an archaeologist, but a man who still thinks you are beautiful when every law of your universe tells you that you are not, is even better.

Beauty is not in the eyes of every beholder. Many people don’t find anything older than a 2-year old cell phone beautiful. Not everyone likes to wander the ruins of previous ages or gets teary-eyed while looking at a stone circle. There are many who look at the wilds of the arctic and only see places to drill for oil. They look at cities and imagine a bulldozer taking it down to nothing so they can build again.

None of us expects to get old. We might anticipate maturity. A mellowness, perhaps. A few gray hairs, the odd wrinkle that could still be considered a laugh line. None of us expects to get old and tired, full of aches and pains. No one thinks struggling to climb the stairs or even get up from the sofa is something great, to which we all aspire.

Climb every mountain – Photo: Ben Taylor

A few people will age with few complaints and some lucky ones will continue to have some of the powers of youth. Whenever I see one of these 90+ people who has been waiting his whole life to run a marathon, all I can think is:


Is that “it” for you? Now that you’ve run the distance, what’s next? You going to keep running until your legs crumple under you? If this was your lifelong plan, what waits for you in your future?

I never expected to become ill or too damaged to do the things I’d always managed to do. I was damaged early, but for a long time, I did it — whatever “it” was — anyway. When age and ill-health crept up, I gradually recognized no amount of will or determination was going to make the days of youth return. Age was not a number. Age was a reality and now, a big part of my reality. Age wasn’t going away or even taking a long vacation. But I can live with it. Getting older is not willing yourself to keep doing the same things you did thirty years ago. It’s creatively figuring out what you can do that you will enjoy and will find worth doing.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of that. Arts and crafts and painting and writing and thinking and talking and learning don’t have to disappear.

Take pictures of – but do NOT forge – every stream.

Dealing with age is not forcing yourself to do the things you did when you were younger. Dealing with age is recognizing what you can’t do and probably should not even try to do … while simultaneously figuring out what you can do. Even when you were more fit, not everything worth doing involved running, strength, speed, or agility. Your brain is part of your body too — and it needs a lot more exercise than you imagine. Even if you can’t remember the name of that person you used to work with — how important is he or she? A lot of the things we forget as we get older weren’t important anyway. For the small stuff, we have lists. Just to be fair, I’ve always needed lists and that included when I was a lot younger!

And have a good gaze at the beauty of the world

As for the people whose names we’ve misplaced? Ted Kennedy, famous for his inability to remember names, used to say to everyone: “Hey, it’s YOU!”

Not being a politician I have a different mode: “Excuse me. I’m sorry, I’ve misplaced your name! It’s an old person thing. Could you remind me?”

Surprisingly, it works. Try it. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life looking at people and not knowing who the hell he or she is? Won’t that make you feel stupid? When they give you their name, but you still have no idea who they are … well … maybe they weren’t all that important. I’ve had people give me their names, what we did together in High School, mutual friends … and I still don’t know who they are. That really is embarrassing.

And yet … life goes on. Go figure, right?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. Lovely words. A very nice tribute to an inevitable situation…we all age. I think it’s how we deal with that which matters at the end. And perhaps the ‘chronically ill’ (I include myself in that group) do it with a bit more finesse, having had to learn the lessons of patience and the beauty of being still a bit earlier than the rest of the herd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always remind myself that I started falling apart very young, so working within limits has been how I’ve managed to have a life. I know people with the same problems who gave up early and apparently did nothing but complain for the remaining time. It take considerable creativity to keep finding things worth doing when you can’t do the thing you had been doing. Keep it up. As long as we find things worth doing, we are good.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Names are my biggest problem, but I never give up. I do what I can and when I can and if I cannot I look for a solution. The fact that I am sitting here remarking on a blog, and that I wrote a blog today and that I am now thinking about taking a photo of that flowering amaryllis I have is enough for me. I do not have to climb mountains, and I never could in any case.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I used to scramble up mountains that were really just hills with paths. No mountain climber me, no sirree. I was never a great athlete, at my best. I was not a dancer and my best sport was ping pong. I probably could still manage a mild game of ping pong, come to think of it.


  3. What Teddy K actually used to say was “There HE is….” with a big smile. Then one day, Senator Kennedy tried it on two crusty Boston TV newsies. He shudda known better. They shot back, “Okay, Senator, who ARE we??” Eyeing the growing crowd, the political icon muttered obscenities at the duo. He shudda known better.

    A lovely piece, my dear.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have long felt that there is a point (age) at which we each begin to fall apart — that point varies by individual, and the falling apart varies too. The goal, then, must be to enjoy the years before this happens, and to maintain perspective on one’s capabilities afterwards.


  5. Oh Marilyn, my James and I, just this morning, were discussing his desire to go skiing just a few more times before it’s too late. Only problem is the WAY he might have to find out it’s already “too late”.

    As for me, I’m just pissed that I now need help changing the damn sheets on the bed! It just makes me feel pitiful.

    I’m working on a new perspective about that though……

    Nice piece. I sent it to James

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It took me time to recognize that not being able to do something isn’t something to be ashamed of. But it takes time. I frequently reminded myself that a lot of people had trouble with it their whole lives. We are NOT all equally physically capable.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I couldn’t last year, but I can this year. I think that now, three years post heart surgery, I am beginning to get a bit stronger. Not younger, but stronger. I have been very weak for years, but this is heartening. Sometimes, it gets better. Don’t give up!

          Liked by 2 people

        2. There is a handy little gadget you can get for that like a wedge with a handle which you slide between mattress and base. I used it for my extremely heavy king sized pillow top mattress but now I have a single bed I’m passing it to a friend with the same problem.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I grab it with both hand and give it a jerk, but it’s a natural latex mattress, so it is HEAVY. And there’s a 3-inch latex topper on it, too. If you have a picture of what it looks like, I might be able to find one online. Or a description. Because I knock my shoulder our of its socket each time I move that mattress!


      1. Not sure if it’s been mentioned, but those fitted sheets can be a laundry maven’s waterloo when it comes to folding. I always try. Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have finally accepted the fact that I can no longer do what I used to be able to do. But for an old fart, I’m still in decent shape and in relatively good health, so I’m happy about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I couldn’t agree more, Marilyn. Lovely inciteful piece. Some marvel at the creativity of children and little ones learning, and I won’t take anything away from that, it can be truly amazing, but it’s not until you get older and the body doesn’t do what it always did that you learn what creativity is all about!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think ill health plays into what a person can or cannot do regardless of age. Chronic pain has robbed my niece of many activities at the age of 47, whereas my uncle lived to be 107 and was in Israel 2 months before he died, walking everywhere independently. He was blessed with good health and was ill only the week before he died, a few months after that trip. Illness combined with advancing age robs many of the ability to do what they would still like to, but as you said, focusing on what a person can do makes a difference- as proven by your writing and photographs!


    1. I reminded myself of that exact same stuff often as I dealt with whatever my body had decided was my new “normal.” I know people who were born with and spent a lifetime coping with cerebral palsy. I knew a whole bunch of MS victims, some seriously disabled, others not as much. I have one friend twisted from rheumatoid arthritis who managed to have a normal life anyway. It reminded me that we are not all equally-abled and becoming disabled in some one is not the end of the world. I think we all need reminding of that.

      Age is one way for our body to defeat us, but to be fair, I had serious back and arthritis issues years before I had more issues on top of them. So for me, it was making additional changes to previous accommodations I’d made in the past. I think it’s harder for people who never had to deal with any sort of long-term disability. But who said physical strength and agility are the beginning and the end of life? I think that’s my point. There really IS more to life than what you can physically do.


  9. I ran into one of my old hourly supervisors working at a neighboring Mecca a couple weeks ago. I knew she looked familiar, but couldn’t place her at all. She certainly remembered me, because she stopped me and asked if I remembered her. Even after she told me her name and that she used to be one of my bosses (and just a couple years ago, not AGES ago!) I still had trouble placing her. It was extremely awkward and I felt so bad. I can remember so many useless trivial things that most people would never bother to recall, but I am so bad when it comes to remembering and recognizing people from all stages of my life that I haven’t seen in a while…


    1. Don’t feel so bad. I don’t remember names OR faces unless I’ve had some kind of personal relationship with them. It’s like some people “stick” and others just slide through. Garry forgets names and often also faces, but he has met so many people. But a lot of people have trouble remember names and faces. Ted Kennedy really WAS famous for not remembering who anyone was.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post. I enjoyed everything I did when I was younger and have no regrets that I can’t do those things anymore. And I love my easier pace of life now😊


  11. So, Pilgrims, do ya think Duke Wayne was a laundry maven? Don’t ask again — Long as you live, don’t ever ask me that again! Sure as the turnin’ of the earth.

    That’ll be the day!


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