Aging and Living with HIV

As I, reflect, I am honored and privileged for the opportunity to be alive today.

I am Grateful. This is the Here and Now. Sad to have known so many, that have not been granted this gift of aging. Grateful, Humbled, and Blessed Beyond. Often, I say, I am Dammm near 70 now! Yes, Yes, Yes and I have been living with HIV for almost half of my life. Two decades of those years, I had been living with thoughts of gloom, doom, and death in the back of my head. There were those dark times, when I would wish to die and get the miseries of my life over. In my HIV silence I did not have a support system at all. No friends, no family, no co-workers. What I did have was a nefarious medical provider. That is a story by itself; stay tuned as my truths are exposed. Little did I know, Jehovah God always had me covered and protected from evil. With certainty, I have been divinely guided thus far. I am Still Here! Truly Amazed, every time I awaken to the reality of a New Day of Life.

I never imagined living to see my child have children. I never fathomed seeing my grandbabies grow and mature into honorable decent human beings. I am so immensely proud of the family Jehovah God has granted me.

Diagnosed HIV Positive at age 36 and now to be 67.5 … Thank YOU Father God Jehovah!

On my 50th Birthday, I was carded by a bartender who challenged my age. Why would a woman brag about turning fifty unless she was? He lost that bet due to my youthful ancestral physical appearance. Never judge a book by its cover. At that time, I was a top shelf premium beverage drinker. I am pretty sure he never challenged another black woman's age again. I am almost certain I consumed at least a week's worth of his tips earned.

As Senior woman, daily, I embrace the aches, pains, and new aging limitations. What is this now? Fit Bit says I am ok. Then, I grab the blood pressure machine for a quick check. That says good. Then to the blood sugar finger stick. Well, that is ok too. Am I breathing properly? Check oxygen saturation levels. Is this a heart attack? Google symptoms again. Or is this a stroke??? B.E.F.A.S.T. (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm and Speech Test).... Fifteen minutes of self-check and with all results "normal" … This episode was not even an anxiety driven panic PTSD episode. What the hell was that? Conclusion, it must have been the morning double shot of espresso coffee I thought I needed.

Aging is a Wonderful Gift. I have come to know, my brain has not aged at the same rate as my physical body has. My head still thinks I can do just about anything. Elder Wisdom’s rationale kicks in and says, "You'd better think that over again." And "Where is the heating pad and Ben Gay?" Then there are the things you have had mastered control over since childhood… like bladder control. That now leaks also. Not complaining here. Just giving a small peek into my aging gracefully.

My aging body now knows when rain is coming. Trust me when I say carry an umbrella.

Just one more thing… chin hairs… Why now? Because I have time now available to pluck them? I do appreciate being asked for my senior wisdom and prowess. Today, if I do not know the answer, I have the tools and resources to instantly research and learn. I have acquired numerous bumps, bruises and battle scars, some mental, some physical. All have not only made me a Survivor but also a relentless Warrior!

I was never concerned about my senior living's financial stability. My credit score was never a concern of mine. Savings for my future, what future?? I felt if there were enough funds to cremate my remains with dignity, that was enough. I would leave behind a legacy of memories. Priceless.

Early 1990, I was told you have six months to live. Get your affairs in order. Death was inevitable. God had other plans. Today, I am Grateful to be Healthy, Willing and Able to work gainfully. I am Not Done Yet!

The transformation has been steady and continuous. Just as the earth revolves daily, unfelt, unnoticed. Learning from mistakes and foolish decisions. My losses were all Lessons I needed. Forgiving myself has been the most difficult of all. I can kick my own ass better than I would allow anyone else to. Looking in the mirror was brutal but necessary for growth and expansion. Mindset changes, discarding behaviors and habits that no longer served me. Dietary changes, eliminating foods and beverages that no longer held value for me. Exercise and physical movement are mandatory for balance in all things. Over the years, I have been blessed with new parts, from dental to joint and muscle repairs to knee replacements also.

As a Baby Boomer, growing up in New York in the sixty’s, I watched the Jetsons cartoon of future living. Smart Phones, Computers, Electric Cars, Seat belts, Self-operated Vacuums were imaginary. Often, I must remind my grandchildren I am a Senior citizen. I do get a 10% discount on Tuesdays. Being Over 65 is Great and it has its rewards.

Each day, on this side of the grass, I live intentionally with love on purpose. Every day is not fun-filled, sunshine and flowers. Those days help me appreciate the journey thus far. Through Love, Compassion, Kindness, and Understanding, each day is Sweet to me. Being HIV positive is one of my varied conditions. I live with, manage, and contain them all. If privileged to live long enough, you will need a few tune-ups and replacement parts. Grateful to live in a time when scientific research data is recognized and respected by the masses internationally. Today, information is at our fingertips. I recall using World Book Encyclopedia.

From then until now, I have learned...

At times, surrender the battle and simply pray.
To serenade myself on my many good accomplishments… no one else will.
One of the hardest things I have learned is not to be critical and judgmental of anyone… I mean anyone, because who knows their journey's path?
I have learned forgiveness is freedom to let go and move on.
I have learned time waits for no one. The clocks keep on ticking. The world keeps evolving and so must I … as long as I breathe. Positive changes are Great.
I have learned I am in control of "Self" and nothing and no one else. Let my actions and deeds speak through my “Spirit.”

Over time, my belief systems and thought patterns have changed:

I have reclaimed my time from non-value-added people, places, and things.
I have changed my outlook on aging/future life.
I am more conscious of my routines in daily living. I am more in tune with nature and my Creator.
I am aware of my Spiritual practices that have guided me here. I have learned that my pride and ego have their place.
I have learned that if I pray Sincerely… no worries; God will take care of all things… as long as I remain Faithful and focused on what I can do. Besides, worrying fixes nothing and causes wrinkles on your face.
I have learned to Surrender but NEVER Give up Hope.
I know that my presence has PURPOSE.
I live intentionally… If I can help some folks along my journey, then so be it. I am gratified in having the opportunities that are still available and offered to me.
The key to my continued experience here on earth is to continue to Love people where they are along their journeys. I know my attitude determines my altitude in this life.
I have learned that unless someone has a vested interest in Me or Mine… their opinions and comments are none of my business... still learning to mind my own business.

I will continue to serve my communities as useful Elder with enthusiasm joy and wisdom. Using all healing tools provided including Prayers and Meditation.

Always love Love.

When playing tag by yourself … you are always it.

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