Aging Gracefully

Posted by Karen Hadalski at 24 May 2012

Category: Boomer Generation

An out-of-town relative in her 70’s visited us this past weekend.  What a model for staying youthful and vital–regardless of the date on your birth certificate–she provides!

We’ve led totally different lives; and, on the surface, it sometimes appeared to me that this life-long New England native, who never married or had children and remained in the same job for four decades led an uneventful–even boring–life.

Yet, when I peer beneath and around these “vital statistics,” I find interesting qualities which connect and interact synergistically to keep her young.

First, while many of us can’t wait to get away from our home town and birth family in order to forge an independent identity and become more worldly, Joanne stayed-put.  Through the years she dug deeply into her family’s history and ethnicity; learned as much as he could about her home town; and became involved in many local organizations and activities.

She traced her Ukrainian/Polish roots and learned as much about her ancestors’ lives and culture as possible.  She visited Ellis Island to learn what she could about their immigration experience and is excited about a meticulously planned journey to Poland she will be making this September to learn even more.

Though she never had the desire to investigate any religion other than the one she was born into, the Catholic faith, and involvement in her local parish, play a big role in feeding her soul , keeping her grounded, and imparting a set of values and morals to live by.

As a child, she came to enjoy books as the primary vehicle by which to experience other cultures,  countries, and lifestyles as well as to stimulate her mind and open her heart.  At a time when it wasn’t all that common for girls to attend college, she obtained both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and embarked on a long and fulfilling career as a reading specialist and elementary school principal.

She is still an avid reader who keeps her relatives and friends well-stocked with interesting reading material; is an active advocate and promoter of my writing; and volunteers at her local library.

Though she never had children of her own, in addition to the thousands of students she influenced and still follows with great interest, she is a generous and involved “auntie” to her relatives, godchildren, and the neighborhood kids.

And, though she lives alone, she doesn’t spend much time alone due to her active lifestyle and coterie of friends.

She loves roses, water, and cats and stays plugged-in to nature through gardening, pets, and time spent at favorite New England beaches and shore towns.

Her outlook is optimistic and interested; her personality: interesting, involved, generous, and fun-loving.  She is someone who is loyal to those she loves, can be depended upon in a pinch, and always keeps her word.

Clearly, there are many ways to enjoy life’s riches and age gracefully. To my mind,  Joanne’s path provides an admirable model for the more sedate, serene and less kinetic among us.



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