Elderly flowers — how I have been learning to love them! That’s the story of today’s post. But first let’s start with the weather.
After three straight days of gentle rain, followed by one day of no-rain, my garden remains soggy. Pink peonies in my front yard aren’t just blooming. They’re drooping down, heavier with raindrops than with peony fragrance.
Oh, the fragrance of fresh flowers! Ordinarily peonies bring a glorious perfume that delicately mingles boldness and longing. Ordinarily. Not now.
Likewise, in the back yard four small rosetrees bloom. Okay, technically they’re called “Knockout Roses” and I’m the one called “Rosetree.”
These garden members of my posse are known for their determination to bloom. They knock out flowers, no matter what.
Only now that blooming combines with drooping. Picture those little red flower faces all whining, “Do I have to smile at you? Smiling has become so hard to do. Ever since all that rain.”
Soggy Flowers, Elderly Flowers
The odd thing is, recently I’ve unblinded myself to elderly flowers. Used to be, I noticed only two kinds of flowering plants: Blooming and dead. (As in destined-for-the-trash.)
Same deal with cut flowers. Which I’m lucky enough to enjoy on a regular basis, thanks to an extremely thoughtful husband. So I care for those indoor blooms by arranging them in colorful glass vases, mixing and matching. Re-mixing, re-matching throughout the week.
Then, when the freshness goes… unrepentently tossing those used-up sweeties.
Recently, though, I’ve started to observe something new. About indoor flowers and garden ones, too.
The Elderly Flowers Can Be Beautiful
How could I never have noticed before? There’s a poignant stage between the first beauty of flower and utter rot. Accordingly, I’ve started to call this stage “Elderly Flowers.”
As a flower fancier (and also as a plant empath), I’ve even begun to admire them.
Just because a flower’s color fades a bit, or the stem softens slightly… beauty persists.
Remarkably, what develops can be an elegant, new flavor of beauty.
Guess! Why Am I Starting to Value those Elderly Flowers?
Haha! Age 68, last year, is when I first began to unblind myself to elderly flowers. Also, in general, I stopped blinding myself to the reality of aging.
In 2017, newly turned 69… Haha, I just typed “29” by mistake! Ahem, let’s start again… Newly turned 69, I’m finally starting to see my own signs of age.
Not with panic. Neither with resignation nor fear. More like a mild fascination. Akin to loving the autumn, because that brings colors and scents that just can’t arrive other times of year.
Slightly Elderly, Mind You. Not Decrepit
Fear not, Blog-Buddies, I’m fully functional. And still with no plans to retire.
Career-wise, I feel like I’m just getting started, finally hitting my stride.
Same in my personal life, my family, my garden.
I’m just starting to notice many things that I never noticed before. Perhaps I never needed to notice them before.
- Like how the old saying is true: Youth is beauty.
- And yet I’m discovering so many other ways that the years bring equally lovely forms of beauty. Dearly different. Quite lovely.
Aging Brings New Spice to Life.
With age, one becomes aware of a mixed blessing that I call “Game over.” Because this could happen to any degree. And at any time. But odds do increase with each passing decade.
One random change to circumstances or health and the quality of life can be gone for good. Like a front-page story in today’s Washington Post.
Did you know? 1 in 5 Americans over 65 do not have a single real tooth left.
That has happened to a friend of mine, a talented, brainy, and hardworking psychic. That’s America now. And that’s also age.
Even more serious forms of aging happen, game changers or even game over. Already I’ve seen that happen. For instance, to my oldest friend.
Eda may be the most joyful person you’ve ever met… with Alzheimer’s. Regularly I speak with her. Our friendship is as sweet as back in 1968. When we were zesty, outrageous hippies in college, renting our first apartment.
I still remember her consumer advice, offered at the supermarket: “Let’s buy the cheapest dish detergent. It will be harsh. Maybe that means it will do a better job at cutting grease!”
Fast-forward to a decade ago, when we promised that when we turned 80, how would we celebrate? Take a trip together to Fiji.
Only we’ve joked together more recently that maybe we won’t need to make that trip after all. Decidedly different perfumes color our friendship now, adding poignant new flavors of “sweet.” And maybe some “Earth umami” added to the bouquet.
What’s Eda’s latest project? Learning how to write her name.
That’s the sort of thing that can happen with elderly flowers. Much is within our control, much lies beyond.
Yet inwardly we can keep blooming: Grateful for life’s joys. Appreciating the goodness of life, which we still can find, no matter what.