FAMILY NOW – Limping around in a boot, 84-year-old Marie Liddle of Delmar understands first-hand that change can come as fast as a pack of dogs accidentally bumping into you and breaking your ankle at a dog park.
She has learned that such transitions can come in small or more dramatic ways and what’s important is that you follow the path before you. In a larger measure, she likens these things to aging.
“We slide into aging,” she says. “We don’t just jump in.” And this could be taken literally in her case.
“I’m used to jumping in and out of our boat or from a dock,” she says. “Now I realize that’s not going to happen. So, you start paying attention to what you can do and say, ‘I did it in the past, but I don’t have to do that now because I could get hurt.’”
Liddle’s philosophy is to find what you can do instead of bemoaning what you can no longer do even when the acceptance of these limitations takes some getting used to.
“Keep a gleam in your eye and go toward something you like,” she says. “Is it always a wonderful experience? No. But, at least you can try.”
After losing her husband a few years ago, she reflected on that big change and the more subtle ones.
“That was big because I was a caregiver, a wife, a mother and a grandma,” she says. “And then you also realize you can’t do all of the things you used to do – especially in the amount of time you used to do it. We think we can, but unless you’re on a skateboard, you’re not going to get things done according to the schedule you originally planned.”
As a former coloratura soprano opera singer, she was sent into another transition as a result of a thyroid operation.
“It was heartbreaking,” she admits. “I still get tears when I try to sing something and my vocal cords don’t conform to what I have in mind.”
She makes the best of it by hitting the notes she can and appreciating the parts reserved for her in certain songs that she sings with the Friendship Singers of Delmar.
As the group’s leader and director, Liddle brings the trait of adjustment to this great group of joy-givers.
“I found that our ladies at their ages are not as agile as they used to be, and we’re not trying to be The Radio City Rockettes,” she says. “But we are entertainers and so I have coaxed them to use their body movements or their eyes or smiles or their stature to change the way we present our songs. The ladies could sing and sing beautifully. But if that’s all they do, the song goes nowhere; they’re just singing and not performing. I tell them that as soon as they walk through that door, ‘You’re onstage and go with a bounce in your step, a smile and look at the audience and let them know you want them to relate to the songs and enjoy the music of every single song.’”
She believes that this kind of volunteering helps keep seniors in the game.
“There are so many ways to give that will give you pleasure,” she says. “Find something that you can do and build upon it. If you don’t try, you won’t go anywhere.”
Liddle holds to hope and that despite the challenges of aging, “With the help of friends and family, it’s wonderful.”
Find this full interview on your smart phone or computer or tablet by listening to The Age Sage podcast. For more information, contact Robert J. LaCosta at 518-435-1250 or go to robertjlacosta.com.
This story was featured on page 10 of the February 2024 edition of Family Now.