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Commencement, By Lorie Sheffer

Within a span of a few days, both of my “kids” received diplomas. They each walked a very different path to get to that end.

My daughter earned a Bachelor of Arts in Letters, Arts and Sciences from Penn State, York Campus. The look on her 11-year-old son’s face was priceless as he watched his mother finally walk across that stage to receive her diploma. They had done their homework together at the kitchen table, and he had seen her still sitting there finishing papers she had stayed up all night to complete, only to have to shower and dress for work that same day.

We had a celebratory dinner that evening, during which she commented about the 14 years it had taken her to achieve her goal. She commented on what her little brother had achieved during that same time. He had finished high school, graduated from college with two honors degrees, and obtained a master’s degree in bioethics while completing medical school. His graduation was set for three days later. I had seen the smile on my son’s face during her graduation ceremony, and watched as he listened closely to the graduates who stepped up to the open mike to say a few words. Many of them thanked their families for supporting them through the years, especially their small children who saw Mommy or Daddy working full time while finishing college a few credits at a time. One graduate was in tears as she said she was so honored to be the first member of her family to earn a college degree.

My son said to his sister, “Not everyone has the luxury of going to college full time. Sometimes life happens, and you have children to care for and bills to pay. You did this while working full time and raising an amazing son.” He was clearly in awe of his sister and what she had accomplished.

It’s so easy to be intimidated by the accomplishments of others. It’s tempting to just not even try, thinking it’s too late or that it will take too much time. What struck me was the admiration and respect that my son had for the tenacity of the graduates he had heard that night. He, who had accomplished so much, was blown away by their spirit and determination.

More than the diplomas they received, I find that, as their mother, I am most proud of her will to reach her goal no matter the time and sacrifice it would take, and that his long list of accomplishments never eclipsed his true appreciation for the accomplishments of others. Children learn more, I feel, by example than they do by words alone. That being said, these past few days may have been one of the best learning experiences of my grandson’s life; not only in persistence and appreciation, but in humility.

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Simplicity

Guest Blogger Lorie Sheffer

Spring Grove, Pennsylvania
Spring Grove, Pennsylvania

Mid Life Celebration readers, I am pleased to introduce our Guest Blogger, Lorie Sheffer, from York, Pennsylvania. Lorie and I graduated from Spring Grove Area High School in 1997 1977. Lorie has a spin on midlife that will entertain and enlighten you. You are in for a treat. Take it away Lorie….

My email box usually contains at least one “Stupid, clueless men” joke a week, sent by my gal pals. The most recent: Q: What is gross stupidity?  A: 144 men in one room.

This is one of the kinder jokes. Most involve man parts and the use/misuse of said parts. I’m not so politically correct or dishonest as to say some of this stuff isn’t pretty darned funny. But underneath it all there is this undercurrent of a battle of the sexes as to who has it rougher, especially when it comes to aging. As a woman who has always had male friends, I seem to find myself defending men more and more often these days.


I was out shopping with my grandson a few years ago and the check out girl at the grocery store, when speaking to him, referred to me as “Mom”. “She’s my grandmother”, Carter corrected her. I actually looked into that sweet little face of his and asked him to “Shut it!”  Actually, since I am trying to be honest, it was more of a hiss. Was I becoming so age obsessed that I had hoped if some kid who had an after school job checking groceries mistook grandma for mom that magically made it so?  As if “Grandmother” is a dirty word.  No wonder my grandson looked puzzled. To a small child, Grandma equals magic!


This was about the time the realization hit me. We women are so obsessed with our changing hormones and expanding waist, our hot flashes and our mood swings, we seem to forget that aging is no picnic for the men, either. We tend to talk about it, while men seem to remain quiet for fear of appearing weak. Notice what the overwhelming theme of the commercials are when “guy shows” are on TV. They usually involve a 50-something couple in claw foot bathtubs (I still don’t understand the tubs), baby boomers giving one another “that look” before dancing down the hallway toward the bedroom, or my personal favorite, the teenaged girls advising newly divorced Dad he would be dateable if he used some man-color on that gray hair of his. (Maybe someone should tell Mr. Clooney and Mr. Gere they would be attractive to women if only they hit the Grecian Formula.)


I honest to God have a male friend who colors his chest hair to cover the gray.  If men aren’t lucky enough to have hair TO color, then surely they can send for some Rogain. Because, grand sense of humor that God seems to have, men start to lose hair where they want it around the same time women sprout hair in places that send them running to the waxing salons in droves.


Our age group is being bombarded by an industry that is literally making billions of dollars by playing to our insecurities, when in fact most times all you need is some dim light and a little patience. Most men would be thrilled to have their wives call them sexy or hot of whatever words we use to describe the above-mentioned George and Richard. I would be willing to bet most men are so concerned with their own age related issues that they don’t notice if our legs (or chins) are freshly shaved.


Test it out; say something nice to your significant other. Give a genuine compliment once a day, and let them know you appreciate them. Really, I think that’s all any of us wants. Maybe if we all just stepped outside of ourselves and tried to see through the eyes of the opposite sex, we would realize that we all have our issues. We’re in this together.


A friend sent me an email forward photo of a pretty teenaged girl, circa 1968; below the photo was the question, “Where are the cute hippie girls from the 60s?”

I scrolled down to another photo, this of a totally naked, very overweight, out shape, gray haired woman in her 60s. She was covered with stretched out and faded tattoos of Woodstock era images. She wore only flip-flops as she walked down the street, head held high.  Amazingly, she looked happy.


Humor goes a long way, so long as the object of the joke is laughing WITH us.  As Robert Browning wrote over a century ago, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”