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Reflections: Just enjoy waking up on this side of the grass, that’s positive aging

Far from being a burden, aging means more freedom, says our resident expert Erna de Burger-Fex
Erna de Burger-Fex enjoys a glass of vino. Aging, she says, is really all about enjoying life. Photo: Erna de Burger-Fex

Every birthday I celebrate is a good one. Why not? It means that I have survived the trials and tribulations of another year. 

It also signifies that I have enjoyed my family and friends for more birthdays, family reunions, visits. What’s so bad about that?

So, hearing aids, my cane Betsy, some grey hair, glasses are now essential items in my life – no big deal! I am short, in fact, now even an inch shorter that I used to be. 

Fashion tells me I should be wearing shoes to make me taller, like four-inch stilettoes maybe? I’ll tell you a secret – even when I was much younger I never wore such high heels. Not comfortable and highly impractical in my profession as a teacher. 

Comfort, now that is the word that describes not only the shoes I wear now, but my clothing as well. Being comfortable is of the utmost importance to me in these senior years. This old gal doesn’t worry herself about fashion. I’m much more about being relaxed in every way. 

That’s what counts! That’s what’s important!
Many things that I used to worry about are no longer a cause for concern. What a relief that is! Long hair, short hair — they’re just phases that will pass. Same with ripped jeans, crazy hair colours or styles – just spell current trends and as anyone in my age group can testify, we’ve seen it all or most of it anyway.

Since all three of my daughters have left the nest, I no longer need to lie awake until they come home. That was exhausting! Some of my grandkids are teenagers already and I let their parents deal with that.

When we were expecting company, I drove my husband and kids around the bend: “Don’t touch those clean towels in the bathroom!” “Make your bed!”, “Tidy up your room”, “Don’t ask for anything to eat before they come!” and on and on. It got to the point where my husband said, “I don’t want you to invite anyone here anymore, it’s too stressful.”

I’m so much more relaxed about that. We like to read several newspapers in the morning with our second cup of coffee. If someone happens to drop in, no concerns about the papers lying around. This is us now. 
Maybe I’ll still be in my pyjamas when someone arrives at our doorstep, no embarrassment on my part. Occasionally a neighbour drops by in her night garb for tea, and we enjoy our time together to chat. No time limits on either one of us, so we can visit to our hearts’ content or until we run out of things to talk about, which seldom happens.
I feel fortunate to be getting older every day. I’m not ready for the alternative. Are you?
I don’t want to discount good genes. The Fex family have enjoyed amazingly long lifespans. Of course, I don’t have Fex blood coursing through my veins as my daughters do. So I enjoy the many blessings that I do have in my old age. 

I enjoy waking up every morning “on this side of the grass” as my brother says. And he’s right! I do.

Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher who writes about aging and the funny side of getting older. Got a question for Erna? Email