Finding Joy in Your 80’s & 90’s 2.0

There are a couple of reasons why I’m re-posting this piece I shared last August (with a couple of additions.) First, this week would have been the Masters Golf Tournament. My mother will be sad to miss the beauty of the course this year with its flowering pink dogwood and magnolia trees and its beautiful landscaping. She will also be sad to miss Tiger.

But I am also sharing it to spread a little joy, some thoughts on joy, during this continuing COVID-19 crisis. I am trying to find joy myself as I stay at home. I try to do one small activity every day that is not part of my routine; something I can look forward to doing. Last week, I zoomed with two of my oldest friends during cocktail hour. I dropped off an Easter lily on a friend’s porch who had fallen and broken both of her wrists. (I texted to let her know there was something on her front porch.) We rode bikes for the first time in forever ago. These small joys are just enough to brighten my day; to make it feel different from the day before as I take it step-by-step through this terrible time.

The following is the original post:

Today I’m in the mood to pull the curtains back from a darkened room and find the joy. Living through aging parent experiences is draining, it goes with the territory, but witnessing pure joy sure brings in a lot of light.

I found an example of just such a joy when reading a Glamour article about Nearing Ninety – a book written by the well-known author Judith Viorst who is indeed, close to 90 years old. (That very fact is joyful! A woman turning 90 has the energy, mindfulness and desire to write a book. Can I have some of that please?)

Here’s a quote from her book:

There’s a quote from philosopher George Santayana, whose proposition all of us should heed: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” I believe he’s telling us that instead of wistfully looking back at what we once had, or anxiously imagining what might come, we ought to be seeking what satisfactions, what pleasures, what meaning, the season we’re in has to offer us.

She is almost 90 and she wants to live in the moment. Find the best joy in the moment. Who’s kidding who? That’s an enviable goal for all of us.

I recently discovered the extent of joy my own 88-year-old mother Ginny has found in the most unusual of places. She is mesmerized by Tiger Woods and watching him play golf.

My mother has neither golfed in her life nor did any family member of her generation, but she adores watching Tiger. My husband Dennis (who is a golfer) will call her and tell her that there is a major tournament on a particular weekend and that Tiger made the cut. He’ll also tell her which network is carrying it. Given her interest, she is usually aware, but not always and she’ll thank him as she heads to the television.

I have made the mistake of calling Ginny during a tournament. She’ll answer the phone, but after a couple of minutes, I’ll realize that I’ve lost her as her play-by-play begins.

“Wait, Tiger’s up, he’s looking at something, oh what’s happening here (suddenly I hear the crowd, so I know he took his shot) and she continues “Ohhhh, he got it close to the hole” and on and on. There’s no competition to who is capturing her interest.

I love that she loves Tiger. And when he won the Masters this past April? Look no further for a sign of her devotion than this newspaper clipping collage that my own mother placed on a wall in her condo. I have never seen her do anything like this in my entire life. I was dumbfounded when I turned the corner and saw it.

“What do you think?” she asked grinning.

“I’m blown away” was my truly honest answer.

What speaks to her about Tiger? I really don’t know because she has never been able to verbalize it. His strength? Sheer will? She has both qualities. Somehow she seems to lock into the challenges right there beside him – living vicariously through his struggles and his triumphs.  And he’s a champion. And the camera loves him. Ultimately, I guess her reasons for her joy don’t really matter. The bottom line is she has it.

Ginny’s birthday will be here soon and she’ll be receiving a throw pillow with Tiger’s golf swing in silhouette. When the 2019 tournaments end, she can sit by the pillow and contentedly look forward to the seasons changing once again; to the golf season of course.

How are you and/or your parents finding joy right now? Please feel free to leave a comment below.


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