When I was a child, my family had a framed print with an old man and a motto underneath that said, "Never regret growing older; it's a privilege denied to many." I can still see it in my mind's eye - the old man's weather-beaten hat, the driftwood frame, hung on our old wood paneling.

It's a very Irish Catholic, gloomy, guilt-inducing thing to say, like when my Great-Grandfather Hughes used to tell us that if we saw a penny on the street and didn't pick it up, "you'll see the day you'll be needing it." As a child it struck me as a kind of clever, smart-aleck retort that you could use on grownups whenever they talked about getting over-the-hill.

It wasn't until I lost a schoolmate to leukemia when I was 15 that the deeper meaning started to set in. I began to feel the full weight of that second part: Life is a privilege denied to many. Every day, that privilege is taken from thousands of people who won't get to see their next birthday, the next anniversary, wedding or baptism.

I am very, very privileged to be here. And I try to never let myself regret growing older.

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Comment by Thomasine Smith on August 2, 2008 at 10:57pm
I have to agree with you. Growing older is indeed a privilege. I try never to let growing older interfere with living. My husband and I have four very active grandchildren. We love to spend time with them. They love to spend with us. Our growing older finds us happy and satisfied. Happy to remember when and glad to be able to say "what if" or maybe tomorrow.

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