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13 November 2009

Introducing ...

I see things differently now. Gone are the days when I wanted to live to be 110 and I thought illness was a weakness – not in others but in myself. All my life I’ve been lucky enough to be healthy, optimistic and forward thinking and now, while still retaining those characteristics, I see times when age has caught up with me and bending over the wrong way or carrying something too heavy for me will make me suffer.

I see the strong and capable man I married, who has always prided himself on providing well for his family and done more than enough for us, hobbling around with painful joints and being frustrated at his own inability to work as he would like. Oh, he still climbs trees, much to his doctor’s annoyance, still thinks he can take on the world but age has a way of letting us remember past glories and not current reality. He pays the price if he works hard all day, so do I, and often I don’t even try to do it any more.

But on the flip side, I love being my age. From the time when I was about 15 until about 55, I felt young, strong and invincible. Now I feel mellow and wise, and strong, but in a different way. Is it okay to call yourself wise? I’m not sure. I feel I know things now that I knew before, but now I see them differently. If that's not the accumulated wisdom of the decades I’ve lived, it’s close to it. People look at us oldies differently and if they don't, we're invisible. I refuse to be invisible and make myself heard as much as possible. Often older people are seen as weak or not knowing much. That shallow view belies what being an elder is. What some see as weakness is really acceptance. I understand a lot more now about what makes us tick and when I see others make the same mistakes I made when I was younger, I just shrug and accept it as being human. I still know all I knew when I was younger, and more, but it's not as important to me now to let everyone know it.

In addition to seeing my own and Hanno’s decline, I am also witnessing the illness of my close friend Bernadette. She's a fiery old bird and as tough as they come, but she’s been laid low with cancer and all the treatments and psychological drama that go with it. Hanno and I are walking this road with Bernadette, wherever it takes us, and whether it’s a good day or a bad one, we usually find something to have a laugh about. And out of the ashes of all that Bernadette has been through these past few months, comes hope and and belief in the future. She bought herself a puppy! Just before she was diagnosed, Bernadette’s old dog Iona died. So after a lot of thought, and a promise from Hanno and I to look after her puppy if anything happens to her, she picked up her cute little Shih Tzu a few days ago. That, my friends, is the wisdom that age brings.

Is there anything more optimistic and hopeful than a puppy? Introducing Flora McDonald.


  1. Heartfelt post, Rhonda.
    Agatha Christie said, "I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of emotions and personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened up before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about.... It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you."

    I wish your friend all the best with her lovely new pet - I am certain it will make her battle with cancer easier to cope with.

    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. Welcome Flora McDonald.

    Rhonda please pass my best on to Bernadette for me. Lots of positive healing thoughts for her.
    For Hanno and yourself you will never age in my eyes. (((HUGS))) to all

  3. Yes...i think that is wisdom..therefore you are wise..its interesting your comments on age and our bodies..i do listen to mine more these days and allow myself a break from whatever it is..physical or emotional. Your friends' new little friend is adorable and you are a good friend Rhonda. I wish her all the best. We too have been through this path with a friend of ours when my children were small. This friend lived with us through this time and as much as it was very hard and sad at times, it was also a wonderful time spent together. All the best :)

  4. And we all need optimism, don't we? I find life just gets better and better as the years roll by.

    Congratolations on being featured at Sew Mama Sew with your soap tutorial.

    Blessings to you, Hanno and Bernadette.

    Diana x

  5. What a true reminder. Even though I'm not old, I connect better with older people than with people my own age for some reason. I think older people are more interesting...I mean, all those good stories, often about simpler times. My grandmother had some especially good ones from the 40s. There is so much I can learn- all that wisdom from literally, a life time. I don't think older people get as much respect from teens and even children as they should, and it's sad. So many kids miss out on some great relationships.
    I'll be praying for your friend, she definitely looks like one of those tough ladies! The dog is adorable- such a cute fur ball. They are such comforting creatures. I'll be thinking about you all in the days ahead.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  6. Welcome Flora - I can feel your wet little nose against my cheek right now. Puppies make the world a better place. Look after your mum Flora♥

  7. What a beautiful post Rhonda, Striking a particular chord for me as I am very near to a Birthday. I enjoy aging and am at the early stages of what you describe here, limits that I didn't have before being noticed in small ways here and there sometimes. I call myself wise and think its fine to do so, I am wise now compared to 5 and 10 years ago and the learning won't stop.
    Bravo to Bernadette I hope that Puppy brings joy into her days and that she gets to have many, many more joy filled days.

  8. It's love at first sight. Flora is just gorgeous.
    And please remind Bernadette that there are many, many of us who have fought the "Big C' and won or at least called it a draw. So hang in and laugh often.
    Cyber-Hugs to you both.

  9. It is sad when even 35 or 40 year olds are relegated to the scrap heap. It must be even sadder for those who have lived longer. A pity the young will not listen to wisdom but I guess most of the oldies didn't either. I have learned to give out the wisdom in small doses only to those who want it. The pup is adorable and will even go on to help you and Hanno because a small dog is easier as you get older. Cherrie

  10. Dear Rhonda,
    Wonderful post yet again. I still think of my father who is only 52 as a strong active man who can do anything. I have only just started to realize that he can't keep the pace up as he used to. He still works and is as busy as ever but after a big day he is very tired.
    Thankyou Rhonda and keep up your wonderful work which has taught me so much. I do wish Bernadette all the best.
    Take care & God bless

  11. Is there anything more adorable?
    Hello Flora and welcome

  12. Nice post Rhonda. Good wishes to Hanno and Bernadette and, after you patted the Lovely Alice for me, please pat Flora McDonald.

  13. Welcome Flora and best wishes for Bernadette. I can't think of anything more wonderful than a new puppy.

  14. A puppy is good medicine and that is a really nice gesture to take care of it for her if the worst was to happen.
    My father had the same issues as Hanno. Being a toiler all his life it was hard to accept the downtime.
    Tell Hanno though that it's possible things will improve for him like it has for my dad.
    He's taking medication and he's a lot more active now. I'm suspiscious some medication he was taking and no longer does was bad for him.
    That is a big problem today is wrongly prescribed medicine or the side effects that most medicines seem to have.
    All the best


  15. So well put, Rhonda. We recently retired from the ministry and are striving to live the 'simple life' on our little 2.5 acre piece of land. I watch my husband (62) split wood, till the ground, etc and realize that he no longer has the strength to do what he did when we were younger. He comes into the house completely exhausted and says he ran out of strength before he ran out of day :) I really enjoyed my 50's and felt much more at peace with myself. I'm looking forward to these years in my 60's as I know it tends to go down hill from there! Having 8 grandkids is like 'icing on top of the cake'.

    Thanks for your hard work with this blog and the forum. I truly enjoy them.

    Elaine USA

  16. Rhonda Jean,
    Thank you for the wise and thought provoking post (as always). It is a tragedy to see how much knowledge and wisdom is wasted due to the lack of appreciation of the elders in our society.

  17. How lucky your friend is to have you-no matter what.
    I find myself more comfortable in my own skin the older I grow. I would not go back to being young again even if I could.

  18. Wow, I love that story about the puppy. What an affirmation of life.

  19. It's okay to call yourself wise, if you notice a difference between your old self and your new self. And you seem to....

  20. Knowledge put into practice = Wisdom ...
    So you are right !
    Please tell Bernadette to hang in there !
    On Jan. 2008 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma Stage 2B, long exhausting battle (in every sense) with 2 dif. kinds of treatments (that lasted 8 months) I was 30 ½ then.
    I'm currently on remission and following up 4 times a year with Drs. and twice with PET Scan.
    I'm thankful that I'm still here to keep enjoying life together with my husband raising my almost 4 year old.
    It is not easy, but is worth the battle !!!
    Bernadette... Hang in There !!!!

  21. Thanks for this post Rhonda.

    My dad is 75 and at the moment in 40+ degrees heat (in the middle of a heatwave) he is harvesting crops for farmers around the district. He knows if he stops that will be it so he keeps going working way harder than his younger peers.

    Earlier this year Dad had a mild heart attack and luckily he was physically fit and recovered really well. First time in his life that he has had health problems and put on medication and he is not liking it at all.

    Thanks again Rhonda and that little puppy is just gorgeous. Wishing your friend all the best for her journey with cancer. I am sure Flora will add extra joy to everyone's lives.

    Take care,

  22. What a beautiful pup! I hope your friend has many wonderful times with her new best friend

  23. Welcolme Flora, hope is truely beutiful.
    I was a change of life baby born on the other side of the world to my grandpearents. My granda's both died before I was two and my grandma's as I was leaving my teens. I have alway felt the lack of guidence from someone who has learnt wisdom through life. It is a shame that so may societies don't value elders as much as they once did, they should be more valuble to us. Please continue to share your gathered wisdom it helps calm us frantic young ones

  24. Yes, Rhonda, you are wise. And because you are wise, you are allowed to call yourself just that.
    I am very happy to hear that your friend Bernadette got a puppy. Miss Flora is a most adorable pup at that! I am a firm believer that animals to cuddle and love are the very best medicine. That puppy will make her laugh and get outside herself and it is sure to do her an immense amount of good!
    I want to hear all about how Bernadette and Flora McDonald are doing...please, keep us posted.

  25. Now that girl has her glass half empty! Good for her! I hope and pray that her treatments (and the puppy) work and that you'll have her with you for a long time to come.

    I'm 53, but I still feel the aches and pains that come with age. I still do everything I want, but just do it a little bit slower.

    I know what you're talking about - feeling wise. To me, it's just feeling comfortable in my own skin with my own thoughts, and nobody has to agree or disagree with me. I'm entitled to my own opinion and you're entitled to yours. I also see young people make mistakes and sometimes I want to tell them NO don't do that. But you know they're not going to listen, it's just something that they have to learn on their own.

    I like what Anonymous said about Agatha Christie. THat's exactly it. A whole new life is opening up. The kids are about gone and I have time to do exactly what I want - because I DONT have all the time in the world anymore. I do what's important to me.

    Thanks for letting me spout off.

  26. When I was going through cancer therapy I bought myself a new sewing machine, that was my way of saying I'm going to be here to use it. I know what you mean about being invisable. When I go to a resturant with my dd the waiter never addressed me, it's like I'm a child and she is my mommie. I don't let it bother me anymore. Actually because of hearing problems I do sometimes need help in a noisy resturant. So I guess I've gone from being irritated to being grateful for help. I'm noticing more and more people asking if I need help or just helping. It's kind of interesting. When I was younger I thought I could do anything and I struggled with aging, but I guess I've come to terms with it. My dd's still call me and ask advise and it makes me feel good to be able to help them in that way. Those years of experience do make a difference. Linda

  27. wow! ya know, I can relate to this in some ways. ALthough only 38, i also feel like I am glad to be "older" and I feel wiser and I think that is ok to say and I understand what you mean by saying that. I would never WANT to be 20 again (ok, maybe the 20 year old body but thats it :) ) I am so much more relaxed and comfortable being me now... I catch your drift! thanks for stopping by today also. would LOVE to MIRL! who knows maybe someday.
    God Bless!
    ps. have read little bits and pieces on hanno... so sorry he is not feeling 100%... NOT FUN but part of it all i suppose.

  28. Oh my that dog is cute. It's a miracle how much dogs and other pets can help humans cope with all sorts of issues, including health. That puppy will be able to make Bernadette smile and perhaps even forget her troubles if only for a moment.
    And as far as getting older?? Well I for one am thrilled with it. Your post, once again, says exactly what I'm feeling.
    Thanks, Margaret

  29. I live in a village where the average age is pretty old, uneducated farmers who've lived a long life and are now wise people because of their age. They're not rushing anywhere, they get things done slowly and spend more time thinking. Illness, like age, also slows us down. There's value in slowing down, but our society is built around super-achievers who shun away illness and old age. Do make yourself heard as much as possible, because your wise words are what people need to hear. All the best to your friend.

  30. Our Daughter is now in remission from cancer, Simple positive actions to afirm life still goes on were what got her through. The puppy is a wonderful step. Even if it wasn't is would be if it makes her happy.
    Larry & I both turned 50 this year. It's amazing the feeling it brings. Almost a relief. No need to prove any thing to anyone. We do as we like and don't worry what any one thinks.

  31. Flora is lovely and she obviously makes Bernadette happy. I wish both a lot of happy days together.

    blessings, Ellen

  32. Dear Rhonda,

    first of all I want to wish your friend all the best, and all the strenght that she will need. How hard it must be to be diagnosed like that.

    Second I want to thank you for being "old". You are such an inspiration to me, and I am sure to more people my age.

    Hope to be able to read and learn more of you in the long future.

    Greets from Holland, love from Monique

  33. Puppies make the best medicine! I'm sure little Flora will keep Bernadette laughing and happy with her puppy antics.

    "I understand a lot more now about what makes us tick and when I see others make the same mistakes I made when I was younger, I just shrug and accept it as being human."

    Now that is wisdom - allowing others to make mistakes without trying to stop or change them. Mistakes are all part of the human growing experience.

  34. I think I'm most surprised that Australians seem to view folks in their 60s as elders or oldies or what have you. That's totally alien to my American upbringing. I'm far more used to 70 being the earliest age declared to be "old"...I mean, we tease folks younger than that about being old when they're 50 or 60, but yeah. As a near-31-year-old, I can honestly say I don't see age the same way as my Australian family.

  35. "I still know all I knew when I was younger, and more, but it's not as important to me now to let everyone know it."

    This is the main reason I like your blog; you have interesting things to say and teach without arguing about things. I'm 47, and I'm no longer interested in so many blogs written by young women who still feel the need to let everyone know why home birth, breastfeeding, no vaccines, home schooling, etc., etc. are the absolute best choices for a woman. I'm learning from you, and I enjoy your "mature" voice!

  36. That dog embodies hope, fun, happiness and just joy of living!! It has what our family call "human" eyes. I wish Bernadette many happy years to enjoy this bundle of joy.

    I am 52 in a few weeks and use rosehip tablets for creaky joints, marketed as Litozin (supplement) in the U.K.

    very kind regards

    Ann Marie

  37. Dear Rhonda,
    Thank you for your post.

    My story is that I'm 46 (nearly 47)and I'm dying as well--not from cancer or any other illness--but from a dying heart. My parents (both late 70s) decided I have been inadequate as a daughter and from now on their love to me is conditional. If I live my life as they say, I get their love. Without love a person dies a slow painful death. I feel sorry for my teenage children (16, 15, 13) who also only get conditional love.

    My prayer is for those of you who suffer from medical ailments that God will give you peace as you endure!


  38. So true... we should enjoy life each and every day, as we don't know what tomorrow holds for us. I love Flora McDonald....she looks a LOT like one of my fur babies.

  39. I love your blog... too many ways to count!
    Blessings to you, yours and Bernadette.

  40. Dogs are great! When my Dad was fighting cancer (he sadly lost) he was most comforted by his giant boxer GUS.... Gus knew when it was a good day to get on the bed, or a bad day and just stayed nearby. I hope that your friend does well and lives many more years. You are good friends to walk the path, we've been there and it can be tough.

  41. This is a lovely post and made me feel sad and happy at the same time somehow! I love the way you write.

  42. Rhonda -- If it's not okay to call yourself wise, you're still in the clear because I'm calling you wise.

    I'm just embarking on some of the things you've gotten very, very good at, and I find reading you refreshing, fortifying, and instructional. If providing a role model for those who come after isn't the very best thing we can hope for as we get older, I don't know what is.

  43. Fabulous post! One thing that has made me realize I am older, other than the creaking joints and gray the death of people I have known since I was a child. It came as quite a shock to me at first, but then I realize it is G-d's way of renewing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on becoming wiser...and many prayers to your friend.

  44. I love this post. You're very eloquent...

  45. Rhonda
    Great post, I always remember working in a nursing home and often thought to myself that the people I cared for had been, doctors, lawyers, teachers, cleaners, mums, dads, pilots, and had even fought in world wars, all very wonderful and worthwhile people. I think sometimes younger people forget the "old" people were once young! Best wishes to you and your friend,


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