The Best Gift My Parents Gave Me

By showing me how to age with grace and humor they have established a legacy that is tough to match.

Cat Strav

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An elderly gentleman under a ball cap sits laughing.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I was over 50 when I approached my father. “Dad, don’t you ever wake up stiff all over? It’s weird. I thought I had more time before I started aching as I got out of bed.”

“How old are you now?” he asked.

I told him and he replied, “Just wait, it only gets worse!” and laughed like it was the funniest joke he had ever told.

I could not help but laugh with him.

There was a lot of truth in that comment.

Never Complain

After a visit to my in-laws where I asked how they were doing, they worked their way over their bodies listing complaints for more than an hour. They were stiff. They were tired. We sat at the table, while the aunts and uncles listed what no longer worked like it used to.

It made me sorry to ask, “How are you?”

I was weary and gave up offering suggestions half way through the visit.

When I next encountered my mother, I had to ask, “You and Dad never seem to complain about your bodies, but certainly at your age, you must have some issues.”

“Of course we do, but we have friends that can’t talk about anything else and your father and I decided a long time ago that would not be us. It doesn’t help to complain about it and no one wants to hear it. It just drives people away from you.”

Their level of self-awareness and conscious decision to live complaint-free has always impressed me. It has also given them numerous friendships, as if they knew of the benefits of human connection before all the studies on it.

They have been aging well for some time.

Diet and Exercise

They travel, spending winter months in Spain to escape the cold of New England.

They eat well. My mother has made a salad every day I lived at home and any time she cooks. Has she been aware of the benefits long before WebMD? They just feel better eating lots of fruits and vegetables, they told me.

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Cat Strav

Yogi. Wordsmith. Hutch Pup. Diagnosed with I.O. (idiotic optimism) since an early age.