embedded in time

Author: angiem, 03 18th, 2009

12th century church

12th century church

When older people get together there is something unflappable about them; you can see they’ve tasted all the heavy, bitter, spicy food of life, extracted it’s poisons, and will now spend 10 or 15 years in a state of perfect equilibrium and enviable morality. Irene Nemirovsky, Fire in the Blood

I have a few friends who are well into their eighties; women who have lived their lives thoroughly and enjoyed the amassed daily moments to their fullest extent.  I love these women for what they are.  There is wisdom in their advice, a sense of humor in their actions.  They’ve come to terms with the destruction life has in store. Physical health and beauty deteriorating, husbands and friends lost to death or alzheimers, children and dear ones far away, their bodies betraying them daily.  But their kindness, their compassion, their love survived every treachery and evolved into a beauty transcending the physical.

I know they have fears.  Whenever I see them upset at their lack of control over their bodies, they fear for their dignity. For their self-respect and the respect, or lack of, others have for them. I like to remind them that their self-esteem need not suffer because their bodies fail. They are more than that. More than fragile bones and decrepit muscles. They are the light in the eyes, the smile on the lips, the love they exude.

Some have come to terms with death encroaching, others have not. But, I don’t believe it is death they fear, or maybe not as much; what they fear is their disappearance; the disappearance of their voices, their laughter, their memory.  The fear of becoming a dusty one-dimensional photo. The cessation of their story.

And then the fear of eternity. Who is immune to that?  So vast and unfathomable. Like grains of sand or stars in the night sky, or the seconds in a grandfather clock ticking away. And all that had been left undone and unsaid. All the mundane and not so mundane choices made daily that may or may not have purified the soul. Or whether their faith will pay off and they will be in the presence of God and their loved departed ones, or rotting away, first their flesh and then their bones.

And yes, for some the fear of death as well. Of what happens at that moment when this earthly life ends and the other begins. That transition from the mortal to the immortal. The termination of one and the beginning of another. How will it be? What will they feel? Where will their soul go and how will it get there?

Yet, despite all these thoughts in their minds and in mine, I marvel at their depth, at the lives they’ve created, at their multi-dimensional facets, the little glimpses into the girls they were and the women they’ve become. So graceful, caring, resilient.  And I look forward to my old age, not in despair but in hope; the hope that I’ll become like one of them, enduring and persevering.


4 Responses to “embedded in time”

  1. ella herman Says:

    Thanks Angie for this lovely piece on aging that you’ve written with so much grace. It brought tears to my eyes. What great ladies and what a great friend you are to them.

  2. Bernie G Says:

    Angie, It has taken me awhile to open your email as I did not recognize the email address.
    What a wonderful piece
    How well to see these wonderful women,
    what a blessing they are to all that encounter them. YOU SEE THEM!
    They see you and relationships are born and will be with you forever.
    I want to share this with my husband
    Mark. He is a reader and writes songs. It will bring tears to his eyes. Thanks for sharing this with me and sharing yourself with these women.

  3. angiem Says:


    Thank you for your lovely comment. I have to wholeheartedly agree that, yes, they are truly a blessing and an enrichment to my daily life.

  4. Ani Says:

    Wow… I’m still trying to take it all in. Very well written. Good job.

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