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Brenner makes those over age 45 feel ‘less than old’

There’s an often shared adage on aging that you’re only as old as you feel. Yet as the world continually defines youth as having less… wrinkles, fat, gray hair, unsightly hair, aches, pains and embarrassing leakage….it’s tough for anyone over the age of 45 to feel “less” than old. That is unless you are my friend Lillian Brenner.

Lillian and I were introduced through an Eden Women’s Group known as Up To Date. In meeting this active senior I was immediately impressed by her spunky, adventurous spirit. In becoming friends I have been continually inspired by Lillian’s zest for experiencing life fully, without care of age as a limiting factor.

One of my favorite parts of our friendship is asking Lillian, “what’s new” and then being amazed listening to tales of her latest escapades.

Recently Lillian and I met outside the post office. It was a chance encounter on a day when I had much to accomplish. Basically, I was operating on a “Hi” and “Bye” agenda. Yet, I could not pass up the chance to ask Lillian my favorite, “What’s new?” question. Her reply caught me completely off guard as she said, “Oh not much really.”

“Not much?” My immediate reaction was to want to shake this sweet woman standing before me and demand to know what she had done with my friend Lillian. Lillian is a woman always involved in exciting travel, interesting artistic pursuits and wide-ranging educational endeavors. Lillian would never, ever, utter the words that there was not much new in her life. Lillian is not now nor ever will be a status quo woman….unless of course she becomes, unthinkably, old.

I was truly at a loss for words. There had to be some reason for this change in Lillian, other than the inconceivable possibility of aging. The only thing I could imagine was that my inspiring friend had contracted some strain of exotic, incurable disease. So I asked about her health. Her reply came with a full affirmation of well-being.

My mind was now completely confused. Worse, my heart was pained at the thought of advancing age limiting this vital woman. Then it happened, the glorious moment when Lillian’s eyes brightened as she said, “Oh wait, did I mention what I did this past summer to celebrate my birthday?”

As I stood in that post office parking lot, amid the cold and damp of a January winter’s day, I became again inspired and amazed as my friend Lillian described parachuting out of an airplane as part of her 85th birthday revelry.

When I asked Lillian if she was scared at the actual jump moment, she smiled broadly and replied that it was one of the best experiences of her life---a life filled with wrinkles, extra pounds, gray hair and the assorted aches and pains by which the world views people’s age and defines their value. Yet my friend Lillian continues to defy that worldly definition by setting her own terms of what is old….and accepting nothing less.

To comment or reply: heartandsoulwriter@hotmail.com.
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