Aging is a Gift

Earlier this month I turned 55.

Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked.  Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.

Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.

When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.

My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.

So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.

Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”  Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.

Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.

Aging is a gift and a blessing.

If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.

I’ll never complain about a birthday again.





Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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14 Responses

  1. Cat Michaels says:

    Oh, Julie. My heart breaks to hear of your mother-in-law’s passing. Never easy but harder so close to the holidays. Thoughts and prayers for gentle days ahead as you celebrate your MIL’s life.

  2. I once knew a lady from Madrid, Spain. She said she didn’t get our emphasis on “getting old.” She told me in Spain you don’t ask, “How old are you?” you ask, “How long have you lived?” That puts the emphasis on life and living life, not on aging. I wish we did that here.

    I’m also very sorry to hear you’ve had another loss. I will keep you and your family in thought and prayer.


  3. So sorry to hear about this, sending lots of healing vibes to you all. It is a horrible process to go through and to have to go through it yourself and then see your other half go through the same thing must have been so so tough. Big hugs to you all

  4. So sorry for your loss. This is a generous post, considering your loss is so recent. You express your sentiments in such a lovely way. All the best.

  5. Carmela says:

    A very touching blog. My deepest condolences.

  6. Chelsea Harrison says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article Julie!! I always thought of My Aunt Cheryl as “The Funny One” of all the Sisters, but she was so much more than that. She always kept us on our toes, so much so that we practically had to run to keep up with her (especially at Disneyland lol) she always had great advice even if you didn’t get it at the time, she knew what she was talking about. I will always cherish my memories of her and remember her strength and love for God that kept her so vibrant!

  7. sherill says:

    Life is a gift, living longer is a blessing, learn to appreciate the small blessings of life and it makes it more meaningful as the days go by. Thanks for sharing a beautiful post.

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