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Women’s Stories of Successful Aging

Kay Dilger Metcalfe: Written Reflections on Aging

“I must now write about myself” (May 18, 2009)

At a social gathering in Plainfield, a younger friend asked Kay how it felt to be 96 years old. This piece was her answer to that question. Again she suggests that she has stepped into “a rabbit hole of some kind,” stumbling into “Alice’s Wonderland abode.” She also returns to the question of “good vs. evil: the contradiction of opposites, and their continual resolution.” And, as usual, she finds consolation among the losses that come with age: “Climb into your hayloft and enjoy your own life and being. It’s o.k.”

I must now write about myself. Today is Walker’s [her grandson’s] birthday. I wish to see him and his Kate soon. They live together with their pup. That is the way now. The younger generation has developed their own culture. Can we anticipate or pronounce the outcome? We diligently hope it’s for the good of all.

First, I want everyone to consider the concept of good vs. evil: the contradiction of opposites, and their continual resolution. This I believe is according to the origin, structure, and the purpose of the Supreme Being which all life finds and respects in its fashion. These truths are discovered as we mature.

Meeting the 21st century was inconceivable when I was young, but the year 2009 is already here.

Friends question me about aging since I am 96 and ½ years old. I think my real concern about the aging process began around ages 80-85. My beloved husband, Tristram Walker Metcalfe, Jr. became ill with a cerebral hemorrhage and with much care, he died. Double duty stepped forward. Would I be up to it? Yes?

With Sue and Terry (Tertius for the third) [Kay’s adult children], I pronounced them with a sword, (i.e., a fireside tool), I placed on their shoulders that the responsibility that was their father’s was now theirs. They arose to it beautifully.

I remain in the beloved farmhouse. Sue and Larry remarked they would come from California and live with me when necessary. A horse farm was a dream of theirs. Terry was living in his dream house, a solar house he designed and built on Windsor Pond.

Then little strange physical things of odd sorts were presented to me; back pains, stomach pain, knee pains, arthritic pains, and what not became evident. Was one of these to become overly worrisome and cause my unraveling? After all, many of our Yonkers friends were slipping away. My friends in Plainfield were fine and when pangs occurred, they were understandable [understanding?] and helpful. I do love and appreciate them.

Early on somehow a sense slipped into my head that I was in Alice’s Wonderland abode. Had I misstepped into a rabbit hole of some kind? No, things were just different.

Two or three years later, Sue and Larry arrived which I felt was good for them and for me. It was the year 2000.

Soon, a most unexpected dilemma strode slyly onto the scene. Its name was “hearing” and has caused an unlikely social change for me. It has affected speech, “What did you say?” “Where was that?” “Who was it?” had become irritating to me and to others. The overheard noise and the incomprehensible patter strains the nerves to exasperation. I’m reduced to just 3 persons to converse with. The audio service has done their best to help.

I keep up with luncheons and meetings and church, and then the problems of remembering names and such have joined into the mix.

There must be a purpose to all these life’s changes.

Finally, there comes a momentous moment when one discovers a slower pace for things and feels less fretful and has less minus thoughts about the mistakes and difficulties of yore and feels more contentment. Do slowly whatever you wish, read, write, think, and accept. Often one learns great occurrences will opportunely pop up.

Climb into your hayloft and enjoy your own life and being. It’s o.k.

And, by the way. . .

“Art in all its form is inseparable from the lives of people. It supports their individual balance and brings the joy for which everyone yearns.”

Also, I believe:

“New times ask for new methods, new men and women.

Things advance, some laws that were best in our fathers’ time outgrow their usefulness.

In time, better and wiser schemes will be formed by the steady growth of truth.”