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Sidna Brower Mitchell: Musings on Getting Older

Sidna Brower Mitchell
Sidna Brower Mitchell

As a snowbird, sitting in warm, sunny Venice, Florida, sipping my tea, I checked out photos in the Herald-Tribune of the attendees at a Valentine’s Day Gala in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sarasota.

The first picture featured Charlene Hunter-Gault and Ron Gault. “Oh, my goodness, she looks old!” I thought.

Charlene Hunter and I were among the 10 outstanding young women featured in Mademoiselle Magazine back in January 1963. (Mademoiselle Magazine no longer exists and now I am, and Charlene probably is, 54 years older.) I then looked in the mirror and saw another old lady—me!

Often I think I’m still 35 years old—I never seem to go back to 21; that brings back lots of tangled memories—but my body will soon remind me that I can no longer do the things I did 40 years ago.

One of my older friends fought having to use oxygen 24/7 because she said it made her feel old. Bobbie was 90! But Bobbie soon realized if she wanted to enjoy what life she had left, that oxygen was necessary and a tank was taken wherever she went.

I tried to tell her using the oxygen was just another passage in life. Bobbie laughed and said passage was the wrong word to use. She wasn’t ready to pass on—to make that passage from earth to heaven.

Indeed, we do have several passages in life as we graduate from high school or college, look for a job, change jobs, move to different cities, get married, have children, enjoy grandchildren, watch family members and friends die, and struggle through life-threatening situations. Fortunately, in most cases, life gets better.

Years ago, I gave a program on setting Christian goals for the Women’s Guild at my church. I tried to show that as we age and face different passages in our lives, we can still set goals rather than just face the busyness of every day. Even if we can no longer physically participate in certain activities, we can pray for one another, for our community, our country and the world.

Afterwards, one woman in a wheelchair came up to me and protested. “I’m too old and too busy to set goals so your message was a waste of time for me,” she claimed. She missed the point.

As I gotten older and not able to enjoy many of the activities I did years ago, I’ve learned to recognize my limits. And perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned to ask and accept help from others, something I rarely did when I was younger.

During my time as editor of The Daily Mississippian when James Meredith integrated Ole Miss, newspaper types, business people and even actors said to call them if I needed advice or help. Being stubborn, or determined as my daughter would say, I wanted to prove that I could get ahead on my own. I did pretty well in the communications field but I probably could have done better if I had stopped to seek for assistance.

Now with three-quarters of a century passed in my life, I hope I can remember to practice what I preach—know my limits and ask for help when needed.

She can be reached at sbmcooks@aol.com.

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