Pages from my journal . . . .

Now that I’ve surpassed the 80-year-old mark, what do I want my personal life to look like? For several years I’ve looked up to older women as models of aging with grace and dignity. My primary example is Mama Nedley, my beautiful maternal grandmother. She lived independently in her own cottage, right next door to us. To say she influenced my early childhood mental and emotional development would be to make an understatement.

Mama was a consummate gentlewoman, prayerful, quietly devout. She read her Book of Common Prayer daily, attended to her geraniums in the window box and a huge Maidenhair fern on her front porch. She baked Southern biscuits from memory and crocheted miles of colorful yarn for baby blankets.

Now in my 80s, I want to emulate her, but I lack her gentleness and patience with myself, especially when I’m stiff with arthritis or in pain. God is gracious to me, nonetheless. I don’t crochet, although she tried to teach me, but I do attend to my potted geraniums and lavender and lemon verbena and read my morning prayers. God and I meet there, on the courtyard, over iced Italian coffee and linger until rising heat drives me indoors.

In The Widow: A Woman’s Ministry in the Early Church (1989), the author writes that “it is natural to cling to the familiar and feel anxiety at the unknown. We begin a period of self-questioning and self-revelation (or realization). We are no longer the same person after important life changes, often the outcome of resistance and struggle — even resentments. Perhaps more than ever, we need discernment; from growing through these processes, however, we can gain wisdom. We learn to cut out the non-essentials and concentrate on inward things — more and deeper reading interests, for example.” (Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston, author)

Aging encourages decluttering, both immaterial stuff like old angers and resentments as well as material possessions, unnecessary clothing, outdated receipts and other items. I LOVE to declutter. I devote one day a week, Tuesdays, to concentrate on one closet or desk drawer. Goodwill is just right up the street.

“Take nothing for the journey,” Jesus says (Luke 9). “Sell all you have and give to the poor” becomes a good motto for aging. That includes books and frivolous reading material, to make space for deeper inspirational reading. I find myself gravitated to histories and biographies, for example, historical novels of women making a difference in their world, such as those of Kate Quinn, whose The Alice Network I finished reading yesterday. Tune in next week for a book review of this World War I real-life espionage ring operating in German-occupied Belgium and France.


Celebrating just over fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. I launched this INVITATION TO THE GARDEN blog the summer of 2017 on I look forward to hearing your stories, too!

7 thoughts on “Pages from my journal . . . .”

  1. What wonderful advice from a wise woman who had an amazing mentor. Just lovely writing and God is such a friend and our Savior in this life. Sending prayers for blessings and comfort. 🦋🙏🦋

    Liked by 1 person

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