Growing Old, Gratefully

Sunny Frazier 5Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to talk about how getting older doesn’t bother her in the least.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, was released on January 24, 2015.   //


“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

The Beatles asked that 50 years ago, and here I am, ready to turn 64 in three weeks. No, I don’t feel despondent about that, I love all my birthdays. I was born on Flag Day and my father once lifted me on his broad shoulders, pointed to the flags displayed all down our street, and said, “They put the flags out for your birthday, Sunny.” I believed him.

My mother hated growing old, resented every wrinkle and crows foot. I think when you are born beautiful it must be harder to see beauty fade. Perhaps she grasped too tight to hold on through makeup and youth creams. I was born adequately attractive. More brains than actual beauty. It’s easy to fool the eye with the right lipstick and blush as long as you don’t fool yourself.

I like myself at this age. I’ve cut my hair very short, no longer buying into the long-hair-is-beautiful myth. Old long hair looks dry and slightly silly when the face doesn’t match. My hairdresser doesn’t give me what he calls “helmet hair.” My cut has some sass to it and I always have bangs. They cover forehead wrinkles.

They also cover my eyebrows. I’ve never tweezed since they’ve never been seen. I look at eyebrows now and am aghast at the way they are drawn onto faces. It unnerves me. How much work does that take? Where did the real ones go? Same with artificial eyelashes. Mine are so long they smudge my glasses and I can’t wear mascara. How much work are fake eyelashes to put on? Why would you want them?

I love my glasses. They hide dark circles under the eyes and crows feet. Contacts can’t do that. I get a little more adventurous with every new pair. This year it’s purple frames with a bit of silver scrollwork on the sides and a few rhinestones. They make me smile. I think my happiness translates to others.

Some women my age pack on makeup with the idea it makes them look younger. What it really does is accent the wrinkles. I don’t understand why anyone would willingly inject botox into those well-earned lines. I use sheer foundation now, just thankful that my skin no longer breaks out. I have to resist trying flaming colors and iridescent eye shadows, which just looks like I’m trying too hard to keep up with teenagers. The black cat-eye liner? Been there, done that 40 years ago, around the time I wore go-go boots and mini skirts.

I have been single all but 7 years of my life. I think I put out a positive message of the single, childless woman as someone to be admired. I thrive best when I’m alone. Marriage was a strange state to me. Even though I’m still besties with the ex, I’m glad he’s found his rock ‘n roll heart, glad it came with tattoos after the divorce. Nobody tells me how many cats I can have and, after 11, it’s safe to say I’ve claimed the title of Crazy Cat Lady. But, I’ve never shelled out for a college education for them or sent them into rehab after too much catnip. They haven’t learned to dial Child Protective Services or the SPCA when I toss them out to the yard so I can write in peace.

My aging friends worry about flabby upper arms. They go to the gym to tone up. Me, I have trackmarks like a junkie and bruises on my right arm. Dialysis not only stops me from being self-conscious, I wear my unsightly arm like war wounds. I’m battling for my life here.

A Snitch in TimeSpeaking of illness, that seems to be the favored topic of people over 60. I suppose it’s the common denominator of aging. However, it’s hard for me to listen to minor complaints of intestinal problems, food issues, hospitalizations, headaches, fatigue and allergies, real or imagined. I’m not all about one-upping anybody, but seriously? You want to complain to me? Give me a kidney and shut up already! I hang out three days a week, three hours a day with people depending on needles and tubes to stay alive. The one thing we don’t do is complain about our health! We laugh, we share, we’re in this together.

One thing I never anticipated was being a “lady who lunches.” Yet, I have my groups and we do exactly that, once a month. I have Sisters-in-Crime, Lemoore Women’s Club and Retired Sheriff’s Ladies. Inbetween are individual lunch dates with girlfriends. They are exciting women, thriving after retirement, and so much more interesting than dates I’ve been on in the past. They are also supportive of my writing career and cheer me on from one success to the next.

I choose to enjoy the aging process. No, I embrace it. I don’t want to emulate my mother and mourn my youth. It was fun, crazy, adventurous and it’s in the past. I love my reward of Now and look forward to whatever the future holds.


56 thoughts on “Growing Old, Gratefully

  1. As another again author, I really enjoyed your perspective on again. There are so;me physical limitations that require a little adjustment, but there are many things to be savered as one grows older. Being able to read while you eat your breakfast without having to worry about getting to work on time is one.

    • Ain’t that the truth! I once envisioned myself as the English royalty who breakfasted and read before opening the Queen Anne desk to answer correspondence. Now I drink coffee on the patio and answer email. I still feel like a princess!

  2. You’re spot on, Sunny, when you talk about what matters. I cared for my mother and younger brother in their final days, and worked in HIV/AIDS services for 20 years. Sometimes I laughed so hard my muscles ached. Thanks for spelling out so clearly what matters and what doesn’t.

    • Your experience obviously colors the way you live in the future. And, it will be a great future because you have the right attitude.

  3. Fabulous review, Sunny, and I do have this wonderful book; on the other hand, ugh, my hair is very long and does not the CUT, but it’s curly and unruly to wear short; I do, however, wear the glasses and I am grateful they cover the puffies.

    • I’m lucky my hair is wavy and grows like weeds! My sister got the curly hair. I envied her growing up, but it just gets curlier with age, doesn’t it?

  4. Terrific column, Sunny. I love your attitude. Of all the things you talked about, to me the most important is having female friends. They are the ones who bolster you up and keep you laughing through the rough times. When I see a woman desperately clinging to her youth and looks, it is usually someone lacking a strong female network of friends and fearful of losing male attention.

    • Grace, I agree to a certain extent: I think there are also good things about having male friends, and sometimes females can be a little less trustworthy than we would like.

      • I agree. My male friends are the ones I’m closest to, always have been. Maybe I deliberately keep women at a distance because I trust them less, or because they’re so much more complex. And competitive. My dude friends are simple fun. I love their humor and energy. That said, I love the sound of ladies who lunch. I think I’ll cultivate that habit.

    • Very interesting observation! I really hadn’t thought of it, but I do love that I have women in my life. They will be there the rest of my life. Men come and go, and that’s fine. I want people I relate to.

  5. This is a wonderful post, Sunny. I’m several years older than you, and I agree with your short hair/little makeup/stop complaining philosophy. I’m glad I’m dealing with arthritis and upcoming knee replacement instead of dialysis or other serious conditions. Aging can be very tough, but a sense of humor sure does help. Your choice in glasses is fun…I bought a pink cowgirl hat just because it made me laugh.

    • Patricia; very valid points: sometimes it’s great to age because we can be eccentric if we choose. Don’t down play arthritis, either: I have it; I live with it; but my mother had and my daughter has RA. It can be rather devastating.

    • Thanks — but after two months of being housebound with a broken foot, at the moment I look as if I’m wearing a wild silver bush on my head. Can’t wait until I get to the beauty shop (hopefully next week) and get it cut short again. 😀

      • Enjoy: I have wild and crazy hair and need the length to pull it back in a low pony tail or low bun. I would frighten people if I didn’t but it does nothing for my face. I am, however, filled with grey.

  6. Long-term illness puts everything in perspective. When the best you can do is 60%, you ditch the non-essentials. It’s amazing how much is non-essential. Rock on, Sunny!

    • Non-essentials are just that! And, why did we think they were so essential to begin with? I feel sorry for these young women (getting younger all the time) who have to keep up with trends and fit themselves into skin-tight dresses. Age means freedom.

      • Yes, I think you’re right, Sunny; I was never a trend seeker, and less of one now. Age does mean freedom to be……..

  7. Great posting, Sunny. I can so relate to this. I’m much more secure in my looks in my advanced age than I was as a young woman (not totally, just more so!). I wear little makeup now and I hate to shop for clothes, so I pretty much don’t and just wear the same old rags year in and year out. When I think of all the money I spent on makeup and clothes years ago … it’s staggering.
    I used to get a lot of attention from men, not all of it welcome. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss some of that attention, but for the most part I find it liberating to fly under the radar and not worry about stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run and focus on what does matter—friends, family, husband, cats. I do wind up talking about medical matters, but try to keep it at a minimum.
    That said, vanity dies hard. I still color my hair. I took some selfies the other day and you won’t find them on Facebook! I probably look younger with my glasses on but find myself whipping them off for most pictures. And as for nude beaches … need I say more?
    On balance, I’m just fine with this stage of my life.

  8. Smiling and adding to my crow’s feet. We should all gracefully age and embrace it, not try at all costs to maintain our youth.

  9. Sunny, that was a perfectly wonderful post. My attitude is pretty much the same and has been for years. I’ve never been one of those people who fudged when asked my age, and I’ve got some years on you. I do wear contact lenses, but I’m one of the very early wearers whose vision is really horrible. I began wearing them in infancy of contacts in 1957 when I was a teenager, so that will give you a clue to my age. As for injecting yourself with poison to take care of a few lines, never understood Botox or those awful silicone-injected lips. So many of my friends have had facelifts and other lifts, but I go with the flow. I am what I am. As far as I’m concerned, your true age is in your attitude, and you are a shining example. I was fortunate to come from a family that aged well and lived long, so they set the bar for me. When my hair came in snow white (my stylist calls it platinum) after chemo for breast cancer, I decided I loved it and, like you, wear it very short but “edgy.” No more wrestling with the monthly ritual for long blonde hair or the hour it took to style it after each wash. Look at your crow’s feet as laugh lines and lace every day with humor. It goes a long way. MORGAN ST. JAMES

  10. You said it well, I’m still a youngster but can relate to some. You cracked me up about the cats! I can totally see you kicking them out to write. You did tear me up when it came to dialysis. You are a warrior Sunny! Love you lots!

  11. You could tell I am very tired. that should read of and now or. This was an enchanting thread, Sunny.

  12. I am growing old not gracefully or gratefully but I’m doing it with “tude, like my elderly female cat. She’s taught me a lot about what I will tolerate and what I don’t have to tolerate. My health procvider told me today I’m good for another 100,000 miles, and I’m going to hold her to that!

    • sometimes we need to be ‘true grit’ ; I have several mantras, too.
      Never let them see you sweat ( Ban commercial).
      Just do it ( Nike).
      Fear does not exist in this DO JO ( Karate Kid, pt. 1),

  13. Great article. Age is just a number and you can make it anything you want. I’m fortunate to have excellent genes my 101 year old aunt stopped driving two years ago up until then she drove “the old folks” to Mass! She’s my idol. In my adult novels at least one character has a scar, mark of independence!

  14. Beautiful post, Sunny. I know I’ve said it before, but you rock. It’s amazing how miserable we make ourselves over things that don’t even matter. You’re an inspiration to me, and we’re alike in quite a number of ways. Except for the cats. No cats for this writer. (At least, not yet.)

  15. I hate getting old for the aches and pains and change in appearance, but my mind seems to keep thinking young. I don’t dwell in the past. I think the knowledge from years of experience is something to make use of in the present, but not to dwell on or wallow over, in the past. The past is the past. I do hope for an eye lift at some point though. I can take the wrinkles, the age spots, the sagging skin. I don’t want to look younger, but the unevenness of my eyes lids drive me crazy. It’s the only plastic surgery I’ve ever wanted. Can’t afford it – for sure, but if I ever can, I may take that one plunge .

  16. Love this. Love facing reality head on and embracing where we are now. After losing my husband to pancreatic cancer (and sitting through dialysis with him since his kidneys had sucked for a long time. Then there was the diabetes) I moved forward into singlehood again, and I’ve remembered how to dance in the rain.

    • Dance until your heart bursts with happiness. Being single isn’t the same as being alone. I can tell you are in a good place. Glad to share that place with you!

  17. Sunny, I’ve never read any of your books, but you made me smile and laugh with this story. I’m going to look for your series now, because I obviously need to read them. You are a lovely lady, and I’ll be joining you in my 64th year in seven short months. Wishing you a donor kidney soon!

    • There’s always that hope that blog readers will realize the books are the same “voice.” The first two in the series may be hard to get (look for used copies on Amazon) but they will be reprinted by my new publisher. The third book, “A Snitch In Time” has just come out and my fans say it’s their favorite. Would love to add you to my new readers!

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