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#322 Taking the fear out of aging

By Cathryn Wellner / June 6, 2012

Aging has never held terror for me. When my hair started to grey, I shrugged. When my metabolism changed, and food and drink started showing up as extra pounds, I put everything on the big balance scale and decided to enjoy life.

What added some worry into the years was ending a marriage in my mid-50s and realizing I might be alone the rest of my life. Being alone doesn’t bother me. I’m a social solitary, a term that describes my absolute joy in the company of friends and complete comfort in solitude.

That’s fine while I’m healthy, but when I added the possibility of decline or incapacity into my happy equation, a black shadow appeared over my contentment. That was before the unexpected delight of meeting Robin, who has become my life companion. It was also before I met the group of friends whose warmth surrounds me better than a down quilt.

We got together Monday (June 4th) to celebrate Hylton’s birthday. At 61 he’s one of the younger members of our group. He’s also one of those people who draw people the way a magnet attracts iron filings. So when I sent out an e-mail inviting this loosely composed group to a lunch in his honour, I knew we would need a venue that would accommodate a good number of us. (Sharon was half of that decision. She’s the woman in the photo.)

More came than I had reserved space for, but the restaurant added tables and chairs, and we were all close enough to feel part of the group. The food wasn’t the important part. Looking around and seeing so many people we could count on was.

I’ve only lived in Kelowna, B.C., seven years. I’m enjoying my 34th home. After two marriages that ended, I never expected (or wanted) to be in a partnership again. When I accepted a job in Kelowna, British Columbia, I anticipated I would be here a few years then head off to teach English in Thailand or Viet Nam or Kenya.

“Man plans; God laughs” comes to mind. I never expected to make Australia my only travel destination, but that is where Robin’s children live. To my surprise, I love it.

I never expected to fall into such a delightful group of friends. Instead of a doddering, boring collection of has-beens, I’ve found a warm, welcoming, accepting group who would actually notice if I didn’t show up.

They have taken the fear out of aging. OK, I never really had any deep fear of aging, but I look around the group and know we matter to each other. That is huge. I’m grateful, and I thank Hylton for the reminder.


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Sharon Currie - June 8, 2012

Hi Cathryn: How well your words and pictures captured the joy of Hylton’s birthday luncheon. It was a celebration for all of us to be with our friends and to watch the different expressions as the cards (no duplicates) were passed around the two tables. Lots of laughter and I even noticed a few misty eyes. Thank you for organizing this special occasion.

    admin - June 8, 2012

    What extraordinary good fortune we have to be part of this special group of friends. You all make me feel incredibly wealthy, Sharon.

Jan Walton - June 10, 2012

Hi Cathryn,
How lovely and how familiar. I well remember last summer, whilst with you all in Canada that many of these same hero’s made my own birthday so memorable and I certainly echo your comments and sentiments for what a wonderful bunch they all are, and what a truly special person Hylton is.
UK Jan xx

    admin - June 10, 2012

    We thought of you as we gathered at the same place where we celebrated your joining us in Kelowna. You’ll always be part of this special group, no matter how far apart we are.

Kathleen Comber - June 13, 2012

Would love to meet this wonderful group of friends when we come to Canada next year for Mia’s 4th birthday on 5th of August and maybe stay until Christmas – The little ones have been a huge part of my life – thank God for friends that you can pick up where you left off whenever that is. Thanks for your openess and willingness to share your life with all of us……..

    admin - June 13, 2012

    We’ll introduce you when you stop off in Kelowna next year. We’ll anticipate a full complement of grandkids photos and will plan to shower you with ours. Our friends will love you, and we’ll commiserate on the too-distant families.

Jan A - June 14, 2012

Cathryn, It will be a long time before you start aging-you’re too busy and when it does creep up I’m sure you’ll accept it with your usual aplomb.
We are lucky aren’t we and the ‘Big Kid’ with the charisma is a huge part of the tone. Hopefully things will stay the same even when we move base.
Jan A

    admin - June 14, 2012

    Wonderful description, Jan – the ‘Big Kid’ with the charisma – and so apt.

    When we move base, we’ll have to be very intentional about figuring out how to gather regularly. And I’m sure we’ll do it, as these connections are important to us.

    So glad you’re part of the circle.

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