I had never considered seriously the idea of going south for the Winter like a lot of older folks do. I honestly thought the notion rather silly and overrated. That was before I spent the holiday in Florida.
I grew up in what my local friends call “the North” though I only knew it as the Midwest. We didn’t always get snow on Christmas, but we could almost always count on it being too cold to be outside.
So you can imagine how weird it was to spend the 4 days leading up to Christmas in shorts, tshirt, 80 degree weather, and lots of sunshine. It was downright weird!
I now understand the appeal of spending 6 months or so out of the year avoiding old man winter. But it wasn’t just the weather that made this trip especially unique, it was the people we spent it with.
Those two old fogies (as they fondly call themselves) are my grandparents, and they are the sweetest old people I know. They are the classic kind that provide you with copious amounts of food, have great advice, wonderful hugs, and spoil you every so often, even when you’re all grown up. And I am so thankful to have gotten to spend 4 solid days with them, the longest period of time since I was a child. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate their generosity and love even more, and discover some new things about them and the community they lived in that I would not have had the opportunity to any other time.
The biggest thing that was highly entertaining and lots of fun was the culture of the retirement community they lived in. Everyone rides around in golf carts, waving as they greet you, and stopping by on a whim if they had something to tell you. Our first morning there, it wasn’t long before my Grandpa was out saying hello to one neighbor, which ended up with more neighbors stopping to chat as they drove by, especially once my husband and I popped out and were promptly and proudly introduced to everyone that came by. I somewhat felt nostalgic that whole weekend from this seemingly small characteristic of the community. I would imagine that back in the hay-day of all these people, it was very much the same. People knew their neighbors, said hello to passerby, and looked out for each other. It made me wonder if my generation would be the same once we reached their age. All the same, it was wonderfully friendly and we enjoyed getting to know all of my grandparent’s neighbors. Oh and of course word travels fast in a community like that as well, if you know what I mean 😉
Another fabulous thing I observed over our little vacation was what it was like to be “retired.” We woke up when we wanted, took our time getting around to go somewhere,
and didn’t really live by the clock except for one night where we had reservations at a dinner show. Sure we had plans each day, but those were “more like guidelines” and it didn’t matter when it happened or even if it did happen. Family, friends, and food came first, and all else just fell into place as time and energy allowed. I haven’t decided yet if this is the lifestyle I plan to pursue when I’m their age, but it sure made for a great relaxing vacation, unlike some trips where you do too much and end up feeling more tired than when you left.
One other thing that you may not find very uplifting, but something I did not view as a complete negative was that well……getting old is real. I’ve lived far from home for a while. These grandparents have been heavily involved in my life since I was born. In my mind, I still remember all the things we did, and those memories are like a time capsule, making me forget how much time has passed since those days. I still think they are in their early 60s, livin’ up the retirement life and doing all kinds of things. And lets face it, they still have more life in them and even still act that way. It certainly felt like it while we were with them.
But movement was harder, aches and pains more noticeable, and energy lower. That’s part of aging, I know that. But its something that I hadn’t taken the time to observe in someone I’ve known so long. So it struck me in two ways.
1) I valued our time with them even more, knowing that there aren’t many more years left before they may be gone. 2) I am all the more curious and motivated to pursue healthier habits with eating, essential oils, exercise, all that jazz that will lead to easier aging and perhaps a longer life.
My grandparents are very strong people and hard workers, they take vitamins along with their medicine (my grandma struggles with cancer), and definitely take care of themselves to the best of their ability and knowledge. And I hope with all my heart that they will live well past expected because they are such a blessing on so many people.
All that to say is, I simply wonder what my generation will look like 50 years from now. What will become of those who have pursued the healthier lifestyle that is currently a large focus? Will we see longer life? 70 being the new 60? 80 being the new 70? More people reaching their 100s with sharp minds and able bodies?
It’s worth finding out, don’t you think? I’ll risk the more natural and healthy choices to find out. And I’ll be happy to die of old age when the Father calls me home. But perhaps this “back to basics” culture is to remind everyone of the gift of creation and what God has already given us on this earth to be healthy and live well. And if that’s the glory to which I am called to share, so be it.
This was such a wonderful trip with my even more wonderful grandparents! You might think it was very serious after all this reflection I have shared, but let me tell you, it was simply a lot of fun in a very relaxing and enjoyable way. Here’s some more pictures to prove it 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!! Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts if you like!