This is my Aunt Flo ⬆️. She’s 90 and she hates it.

She’s beautiful. That’s her husband John. She was in her early 20's when she got married and began her life. Everything going according to plan. She had a son named Bobby. And then he died of cancer at 10 and she became one of the strongest women I have ever come to know.
She survived it.
kind of...
His bedroom still looks the same. “Bobby’s Room” sign still on the door of the home she continues to live in 60 plus years later.
(Don’t quote me-I haven’t gotten confirmation on the years.)
But, she continued on living. Just the two them, every day for 40 years. Trips. Holidays. New friends. New nieces and nephews.
Until John got alzheimer’s and passed away in a nursing home.
And every day until she fell and broke her hip, she lived alone. Alone for 20 years.
Now she lives unhappily with a Slovak women who cares for her; cooks her meals, walks her to the bathroom, helps her dress. She absolutely hates it and I don’t blame her.

Aunt Flo was the definition of an “Independent Woman” before Destiny’s Child’s hit single came out and people started defining themselves by what they owned.
She was a Survivor of personal hardship. She was an equal partner in her marriage and lived with a mind and body of her own. She is exceptional in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. You just feel it when you’re near her.
You automatically feel her strength. She has this grit about her, that sets her apart from the “sweet Grandma” type. Maybe it’s because she’s never had the chance — but that’s why I like her.
She’s still soft. A kiss on the cheek and a sweet hand squeeze. Letting you know, “We’ll chat later”.

A few weeks ago she called me up.
She couldn’t hear me when I answered.
“Hold on hun I need to take out this stupid hearing aid. I get static when I’m on the phone. Stupid thing. What’s the point of this — I don’t know.”
She needed someone to “babysit” her while her nurse had a night off. I could hear the shame in her voice.

Selfish me. I didn’t want to “waste” a weekend away, but I couldn’t say no to Aunt Flo. She needed me. I never thought she needed anyone…

I recently celebrated a birthday. Nothing fancy. I got dressed up. We had a nice dinner and champagne. And then we laid on the couch with more champagne and pizza and talked all night about the rest of our lives and being scared and excited and optimistic and hungry all at the same time. It was a really nice day, but the one take away;
I was looking forward to getting older. To the rest of my life. To my future.
But after spending 24 hours taking care of someone who has lived for 90 years,
I realized there’s a difference between getting older and getting old and for most of us, we don’t get to decided when one stops and the other starts.

She really really tried to avoid asking me for things. She would try to start dinner and take everything out of the fridge and then would have to stop and take a small nap. Just 20 minutes is all she needs. She woke up with a new attitude, ready to take on the challenge. And every time she started, she got defeated: by exhaustion, by dizziness, by her bouts of pessimism — knowing that this is what the rest of her life is going to be like. It weakens her. And it weakened me too.
Every time she needed help, she would say to me:
“Brittany, I’m usually not this weak, but for some reason I just can’t seem to do it today. Tomorrow will be a better day. I just have to do my exercises. Tomorrow will be better, but can you help you just this once?”

She still enjoys her scratch offs, her Mets, e-mails, eggs & onions, and making her OWN cup of tea.
She will die before she lets go of her independence. I am sure of that. When she no longer enjoys watching those cute young pitchers, and winning $2.
And honestly, I am probably going to fight getting old just like Aunt Flo is.
I respect her disdain for help. I respect her fight and I respect her value of a quality life and one there after.

I am not scared of getting older.
I am scared of getting old.

Aunt Flo has taught me that it’s okay to hate it. Because that just mean’s the life she lived before now — she loved.
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Justice TNC Rangarajan alerted me on this meaningful blog post.