what is it like to be old and awesome? (the plant a kiss blog hop)

young love - at ages 89 and 91.

Wow. It’s been exactly a year since I first wrote about these young lovebirds – my Nana and Hibb, who remain as close as ever after reconnecting nearly 70 years after they first met. I loved how much you loved their story! And they did, too. They have continued their long-distance courtship, with Hibb traveling from Connecticut to Minnesota each season for three weeks at a time. When he’s not here, they talk every day on the phone. It is so beautiful that they have each other to lean on, near or far.  And to be totally honest, it’s pretty lovely to have a sweet grandfather-figure back in my life after 25 years without one. Such an unexpected gift.

Right now, Hibb is back in town for Nana’s 89th birthday. On Monday, thanks to a cancelled meeting and a sitter already scheduled for the boys, I was able to take my favorite couple out for a play date. It was a gorgeous day here, so we went to a favorite restaurant on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Hibb and Nana sat across from me, finishing each other’s sentences, and marveling at the gorgeous weather, the ice melting on the water, the sweet waitress, all the people sitting outside, how perfect the chicken was in their meals. Seriously, everything delighted them.

ice melting on lake minnetonka - april 29, 2013

I thought a lighthearted movie would be nice after our leisurely lunch – but they suggested another show: people watching from a bench by the lake. And you guys? We sat there in the sunshine for over two hours – chatting with each other, chatting with strangers, petting dogs passing by. It was so lovely, just sitting there with nowhere to be and nothing on the agenda but connection and appreciation. A change of pace, for sure.

I didn’t want to waste all that quiet time on small talk. Nana and Hibb have both had health scares in recent weeks; reminders for me that their time here is limited. I know life is precious, that none of us know how many days we have. But it’s easier to tuck that thought away, to just assume I have many healthy decades left. I might go bonkers living each day as if it were my last. But I wondered, as I sat there with Nana and Hibb, what it’s like to know there really are no decades left after living for so many.

“I know this might sound odd,” I started. “But would you mind telling me what it’s like to be your age? Does each day feel more precious or do you try not to think about it?”

Nana put her arm on Hibb’s shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “I always say, ‘every day is a bonus,'” she said. “We don’t know how much time we have left. But I’m not afraid to die.”

Hibb thought for a few moments and then said, “I would say I just live in awe.”

After his father died young – when Hibb was a teenager – he assumed he’d suffer a similar fate. So he’s genuinely surprised to still be here at 91. He is in awe, too, of the changes he has witnessed in his lifetime – from gravel roads that are now highways to technology he doesn’t understand. He recalled how busy life once was – with kids and work and everything in between. He can’t believe he didn’t stay in better touch with my grandpa after the war, but honors that the busyness of  daily life took priority.

After you turn 80, Hibb told me with a laugh, you spend more time at the doctor than you ever thought possible. There are daily challenges, for sure. But as long as they’re able, he and Nana said, they’ll take every chance they can to fully experience and appreciate the life they’ve got.

They must have thanked me 100 times for our afternoon out, when I should have been thanking them – for reminding me what’s most important. I want to see every day as a gift, whether I’m on the go or have nowhere to go. I want to appreciate change – even the kind I don’t understand or want. I want to sit on more benches, talk to more strangers, and always look back on my life – including the busiest of days – with loving eyes. I want to live in awe, always. 

*****

Today’s post is part of the Plant A Kiss blog hop, first organized by Sherry of Simply Celebrate last spring, to celebrate the launch of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s darling book, Plant A Kiss. A group of bloggers were asked to do something special on April 29th that would plant joy in our corners of the world – and then blog about it. So happy to be doing it again! Click here to find links to all of the participating bloggers and see how each woman was uniquely inspired to celebrate Plant a Kiss Day.

P.S. I’ll be printing this out for Nana and Hibb, since they don’t have computers, along with your comments. Thanks in advance for the love!