As I get older

I’ve never had any issues with age. Even though it’s still months away, I tell people I’m 50. I guess it’s because I know time has been kind to me and I get a kick out of seeing people with a hint of surprise in their eyes when they hear the five-oh.  (Okay, I’m being vain.)  But last week saw me hopping from one doctor’s office to another, catching up with my annual check ups and still scheduling more appointments to make sure all the parts continue to work properly.

What I had thought would be a short quick hello to my baby guy (ob-gyne) turned out to be the usual long wait and battery of tests.  I was royally delayed getting back to work, and I missed my little guy’s call.  When I called back to tell him I had been at the doctor’s, I sensed some panic in his voice when he asked me why.. it was a little difficult doing the cliff notes version of “Mommy is approaching menopause and needs to make sure all her parts are still working in synch,” so I gave him an oversimplified excuse of having to go like he goes to see his pedia every year.

I almost made the joke that Mommy’s getting old and not all her parts are working as well as they used to, but the hint of worry in his voice made me hold back.  I don’t think he would have caught the humor in it.  Sometimes, we grownups can be rather sick with our jokes, and it hits the younger ones a different way.  More so the ones who think we will live forever, because they depend on us for nurturing and can’t yet live without us.  I remember when I was his age, I never even thought of my parents passing on to the other side.

Which brings to mind a story that a friend who recently turned 50 shared with me. The family was at a restaurant for his birthday dinner, and when the cake was taken out for him to blow, his 10-year-old son started to cry.  It was as if there was that sudden realization that his father was older and might not be around for long.(Although grey hair notwithstanding, he looks pretty good for his age.)  And I guess it hit the little boy so hard that he forgot his own grandpa was in his mid-seventies. That would give him another good quarter of a century with his pops at least if their genes held up… It was heartwarming and yet worrisome.  How do you assure your son that you still have quite a lot to give and that you don’t intend to conk out on him midway through to adulthood?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my little guy now that we are transitioning to a major life change as a family.  I have been blessed with his undying love and devotion, and his maturity has often caught me off guard during those moments when I thought I was supposed to be the stronger one.  He would hold my hand or hug me warmly, or just utter “I love you, Mama” from across the room or in the middle of doing homework.  Often, it was during those moments when my mind was wandering off thinking about where we are right now and where we are supposed to go as mother and son.  Those moments when I feel vulnerable and weak– and the universe hears and prompts my one-man cheering squad to holler and wake me out of my melancholy.

In that moment, he is my little boy.  I am the adult.  And yet I cannot deny that I see him maturing from day to day and I am reminded of how I, too, am getting older. I think about that and it’s as if someone hit the pause switch on the remote and my heart skips a beat and stops– just for half a second.  He is the greatest reminder of the passing of time.

I have embraced aging with grace because I have always had a forward-looking outlook in life.  I look back to the past for the lessons learned and the memories that prod me on, but I don’t try to relive it or cling to it because I know I can’t.  I know that no matter how we try, we cannot slow time.  Seeing him grow before my very eyes has only served to illustrate how time has flown by.  As he advances in age, so do I.

I have repeated time and again that I think “Dinna at 50” is the best Dinna yet. When friends who have lost touch ask me how I am, I always start off with “I am in a very good place.  I am happier.”  When I go home to Manila, friends look at me and say I don’t look like I aged.  I always say it’s the make up. LOL.

Like my friend’s son, I used to think of 50 as “OLD”.  It seems like my own Dad was forever in his 40s.   And now that I am almost 50, I feel it but it doesn’t give me pause when I think about life in general.

I embrace it and own it knowing there’s 50 years’ worth of experience tucked between the lines on my skin, or under the youthful looking yet no longer young face.  I have been fortunate to have had the chance to go after my heart’s desires and live my dreams.

Went to law school.

Passed the Bar.

Started a family.

Have a son.  (And yes, I have always wanted a son.)

Pursue my creative penchant.

Travel.

Write.

I haven’t quite ticked off everything on my list just yet, but I’m pretty happy with what I have so far.

I know I will see the Banawe Rice Terraces soon.

Or walk the beaches of Boracay and El Nido.  ( I have already seen Chocolate Hills of Bohol this year.). Visit Rome and one day, return a third time to the City of Lights.

Close the chapters that need to be concluded.

Start anew with my little guy.

Write my story.

Learn to play the cello.

Create.

Craft.

Travel.

Write some more.

Take care of me.

My bucket list, if it existed, would be made up of very small and not-so-grand to-dos. I am grateful that life has afforded me the breaks to realize the bigger dreams  I had my heart and soul set on, and though they didn’t always turn out  a happy ending, I can say I did it.  I let go of the ones that somehow got derailed or sidetracked or just completely failed — I think I have enough under my sleeve to be able to say I’ve lived a good life.  and I intend to keep living a good life, holding my little guy’s hand.  As Melody Gardot sings in “Lover Undercover”, I don’t need anything more than I’ve got.

I have a little scrapbook in my heart that has the pages of the bits and pieces of my life that make me smile.  Those that have brought pain or still bring a hint of it, I’ve torn off and thrown away.

I look at my little guy, I scroll through the selfies on my phone, I listen to the new music I have learned to like — and I know I’m in a very good place.. More so for someone about to turn 50.  I guess I’ve learned to ease my grip on the reins. Frustrations and disappointments, while forever there, are easier to handle — and no longer as heart breaking as they used to be for the younger me.  I’ve learned to let go and hold on only to the things that really matter and which are truly mine, as I get older.

Repost: Daily Prompt: “Sorry, I can only help one person at a time”

I don’t usually rehash posts and repost but this prompt reappeared on The Daily Post, and although it’s two years old, I think it’s worth sharing again.

Daily Prompt: Sorry, I’m Busy..Tell us about a time when you should have helped someone… but didn’t.

I know the prompt is about not having helped someone at a time when that other person needed help..but this prompt appealed to me for a totally different reason.   It’s not that I have always been ever ready to extend help when requested or when there is an opportunity to do so.  I have had my own failings in this department.

However, when I read the prompt this morning, it hit me from a different angle.  There was a time when I was the one on the other end — the one that got the cold shoulder, the one who was brushed off.

It feels like that was a lifetime ago, twice over.  I find it ironic that the most painful brush offs were from people I least expected it from.  Two people who had become a very big part of my life.  One who, for many years, shared everything I had — and when it was my turn to ask, I was told there was a difference in wanting to help and being able to help.  There I was the one in need, and this person made out to be the victim.  So that was that.

The second most painful was when someone told me that very line — “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  It rings hollow now when I try to bring myself back to that point in time when I heard that first.  Perhaps my heart has been steeled by the realizations that followed.

I have long since realized that people can make you feel important and make themselves believe you matter to them, but when the rug is pulled from under you, they scurry away because to be there would take too much of an effort from them — and there are other things that are far more important than you.

Imagine if  the higher power we look to for our faith told us the same thing — then we would be a miserable sea of broken people.  But that is exactly what sets Him apart from us who are frail of spirit and weak of heart.

“I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  Cowardice shielded by dramatic words.  That it sounds good doesn’t make it right.  Neither does it make it true.  In truth, we help many people, half of them by choice, half of them by chance.  The ones we turn our backs on, however, are always a deliberate choice.  We choose NOT to help them.

Whatever faith we hold in our hearts, we are all taught to be kind to others.  When we choose not to be kind, even when we convince ourselves it’s for the good of the majority — we go against that very grain of kindness.  It does not justify turning our backs on those who need us.  More so when we turn our backs on those we promised never to shun or set aside.

At the start, remembering being turned away was painful.  For a time, there was hope that I misheard it, or that perhaps there would be a realization along the way.  But I was the one who eventually came to realize that when others choose not to help, there will always be those who will.  Kindness can come from the most unexpected place — from the last person you would expect would understand and just hold your hand.

I hope that I will have the werewithal to never utter those words.  “I’m sorry but I can only help one person at a time.”  I wouldn’t want to say that to someone already downtrodden and carrying a load on their shoulders — because it would be like saying “I can’t help you because I’d rather help someone else.”  I hope I’ll remember to say “I want to help but I can’t.. not now.. not in the way you need me to.. but let’s see how I can in another way.”

I wish them well.  I know they know I made it through the storm — and with the help of others, I’m still here.  There is a lot of good out there — even if we don’t find them in the people we expect to find it in — kindness will find its own way.