Dudley Do Right


It was 88 degrees and he was standing on hot asphalt in the parking lot and he was wearing a Dudley Do-Right-esque hat. His body looked healthy and strong but his gate was feeble and frail. His face and his teeth gave his true age away yet his smile was as big as his determination. With his brief case in his hand, he began looking around ever so confused as if he had lost his way, head turning from side to side.
I pulled into the parking lot and ask if I could give him a ride and after a bit of confusion about the address, off we went in search of a house where he was seeking help with his computer. I ask him his name and he replied, “I’m Gene Fleming and thank you for taking so much of your time to help me.” I laughed of course and told him it was no problem that I was happy to do it and so as not to offend him or make him feel elderly, I mentioned how hot it was to be walking on asphalt. I’ve learned in my many years as an elderly advocate that there is a certain psychology which one must employ to ensure that the dignity and independence of a senior is preserved.
When we arrived at the house I told Gene I would be happy to wait for him to give him a ride back home. That is when he told me where he lived and to my astonishment he had taken a city bus then walked almost a half a mile before I found him. He was bright -eyed like a newborn eagerly anticipating his new day. He was determined not to let age prevent him from thriving. I apologized for my car having so much stuff on the seat and in the floor and made a joke about it being a girl thing, he remarked that his beloved wife who had died recently always kept her car in the same condition. Naturally, I insisted on giving him a ride home when he was finished with his business but to no avail, he continued to insist he would be fine. As I waited until the owner answered the door of the house we arrived at, I took a picture of him standing at the door…there was just something so sweet and vulnerable about this man. I struggled to pull away from the curb.
I drove home uneasy. My instinct was urgently begging me to drive back immediately and wait in front of the house but I had business to take care of so I finished it as quickly as I could and jumped back into the car within 35 minutes. I returned to the house and sat in front of the home patiently waiting, praying he was still there and feeding the neighborhood squirrels with the stash of peanuts I keep in the trunk of my car. After waiting for 30 minutes I went up to the door and rang the doorbell…no one was home.
Now I was really struck…where could they have gone so soon? It’s funny how the imagination runs amuck even though your sensible self knows all is fine.
I continued on the Office Max to pick up my order and wouldn’t you know it they were backed up so 5 minutes turned into 30 which I knew was a perfect timing thing. I just had to return to the house one more time to ensure that little fellow had made it home safely.
When I got back to that home, the garage door was opened and the dogs were barking in unison. I rang the doorbell and a lovely older woman answered with the phone glued to her ear. She waved me in and I told her who I was and that I was concerned about Gene and wondering if he had gotten home safely. She said, “Who?” and the blood drained from my face. I explained with haste, she nodded and said he had not given his name. He found them through an ad and yet her husband was kind enough to drive him the long way back to his home. As we stood there talking she told me she was a seamstress and I just had to laugh, partially from relief that Gene was fine and on his way home and because I had been looking for a good seamstress for several weeks.
Moral of the story, do all the good you can at all times, trusting your instincts. As it turned out, this lovely road, catering to an elderly man, also brought me to my destination in finding a seamstress. You never know where Spirit and your highest self are leading you but you sure do want to follow.

Sunsets, The Gateway to the Stars


Aging in the twenty-first century is an interesting prospect. With so many available surgical procedures, Botox and fillers and non-invasive procedures like lasers, facials and other skin stimulating treatments, it is a wonder anyone over 50 has even a small wrinkle.
There are two sides in the aging debate; one, pull it, pluck it, tuck it, suck it, pin it, thin it, fill it, dye it and cut it. Then there are those who for financial reasons, commonsensical reasons or just plain self-contentment reasons subscribe to the notion that fighting gravity is futile and aging with grace is the road to ultimate fulfillment. I am of that mindset.
There was a time I thought that I might venture down the non-invasive path when the signs of aging had finally overtaken my face but now that I am there, on the cusp of what was once considered old, I am completely at peace with the process. I refuse to bend to society and its narcissistic need to make everyone look perfect. I refuse to look in the mirror and dislike or condemn myself. I refuse to let what society thinks turn me into a paranoid old lady wondering how people perceive me or worse, an insignificant wallflower ignored by society. I refuse to be like everyone else who thinks that by fixing their chin or eyes that no one will have a clue how old they are. I refuse to be relegated to sitting and knitting as the world around me spins.
I celebrate the last year of my fifties with glee because I survived more than I ever thought I would or could. I celebrate every gray hair as it reminds me of my old friend, the silver lining, which has shown up in my life right after every major storm and there have been so many. I celebrate every wrinkle and every smooth spot knowing that soon they will merge and all the lines of my life and every path I took will envelop my face. I celebrate the sags the bags the bum drop, the ski slopes, the liver spots and waning vision as I know it is my time to multiply and exercise what cannot be seen. I had my youthful day in the sun but sunsets are so much grander and they are the gateway to the stars.

Ariaa Jaeger


The Setting Soul

How many times have you heard the adages, “You are only as old as you feel?” “Age is just a number,” and of course “Age is a state of mind, not a measure of time?” Sadly in our society age DOES matter and it matters more the older you get. People are easily discarded and dismissed as “too old” to do this or that. Then there is the counterpart to naturally aging and that is all those people you see with over-sized lips, horrendously tight skin and eyes that have been snipped and raised into small slits. There are a host of men and women especially in this ego driven, fame whore, shallow society, who look like something out of a zombie movie or worse, women over a certain age desperately seeking love wearing skirts up to their gunny and necklines down to their tummy. I have never diluted myself about aging though I do feel younger than my chronological years, I am completely honest with myself that my moment in the sun has long set. The beautiful part about aging is just that; you get to forget about your looks, your shape which is like a lava lamp, squishy and wiggly and jiggly. Age enables a certain level of freedom, you are free of worrying about whether a man or woman is looking at you or wanting to take you home because YOU no longer need the validation. You are free of worrying about that double chin when you smile because fixing it is far to risky and pricy. You are free from worrying about what other people think of you because YOU LOVE YOU BETTER than most are capable of. You can speak your mind more freely and instead of being called crazy, you are now “eccentric!” You can take more risks when you are older because after all what have you got to lose?” You are free of indecisiveness because time is of the greatest importance as it dwindles away into something called the “golden years” which translates to, “the years of incontinence!” Aging is NOT a joy and YET it IS! You’ve made it this far, through trials, heartaches, suffering, loss, and hurdles that would have killed weaker souls. As the hair begins to silver and the lines grow deeper you get to assume a new role, that of sage, and old crone, wise and full of grace. As you take your place in a youth hungry, perfection craving society, you find comfort that most no longer look when you enter a room full of men. You find a tranquil resolve in knowing that the phone only rings when someone needs you but you thank GOD you are still useful. You resign yourself to the notion that your days are numbered which makes accomplishing far more urgent, leaving a legacy far more paramount. Those little things which once were the dramas of your life no longer matter and the memories of any mistakes made along the way mercifully fade. You find that each moment of life is not only a gift but the greatest measure now and forevermore is that you make it count for the benefit of as many as you can affect and infect with the wisdom and love you have amassed. ~Ariaa Jaeger, age 58 and grateful to be me. ~Ariaa.com