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Monday, 04 August 2008

Memory Flashes

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Please don't forget to vote in the July Excellence in Storytelling Award. The poll is in the right sidebar.]

By Sylvia Kirkwood of The View From Over the Hill (Somehow I know that today is Sylvia's birthday.)

Some days I can find the beauty in growing old - time to read, write, explore cyberspace. Time to knit, try new recipes or fix old favorites, sleeping in, staying up late, learning to play the guitar, writing stories, poetry, playing with the idea of another book - for my own pleasure, not with the idea of publishing anything. I did give up that idea years ago. Still, there's all that to enjoy, get involved in and no schedules to keep.

I’ve been thinking a lot about growing old lately. Funny, I never thought about it at all until the past few years. Lately aging has been the subject matter for all those poems and short stories I had been putting together for the writing classes I signed up for. And I seem to spend a lot of time staring out the windows just thinking about it. Wondering how it got here so quickly and when I wasn’t even looking.

Just doesn’t seem fair somehow. Oh, it’s not all bad, but it isn’t all good either, but what is, really. I’m pretty sure the “old age thing” began to dawn on me when I finally realized that most companies really didn’t want anyone over sixty-five in spite of all that tongue wagging about no age discrimination.

Shortly after that, I'm quite certain that I began having at least two birthdays a year – how else could I have gotten this old so quickly? And look at my kids! They’ve finished college, have their own businesses and homes, take perfectly good care of themselves and I didn’t even have to be there to make sure they did it right!

I married late. I'd been told by a couple of doctors that there was no way I would be able to have children, so I wasn't thinking about being a mother. Three months after the wedding I was pregnant and I ended up verysuccessfully having four healthy children. So much for doctor's opinions.

After moving around with the Air Force from Texas to Europe and finally Montana, we decided to stay put. It sometimes seems like it was only yesterday that our big house there was overflowing with four young children. I always seemed to be whirling around cooking, cleaning, and sewing. My husband always seemed to be telling me to slow down, stop the clock, take a breath. The long days with early mornings and late nights wiping noses, patting bottoms and singing lullabies.

But up until recently I lived in a one bedroom apartment with lace curtains and it was so quiet! And I could read, write, explore cyberspace, wonder where the time went – yes, it’s a different kind of busy. There are days when it’s wonderful and exciting and there are days when it’s too quiet, too peaceful, too dull!

But I have to admit those are getting fewer and fewer as I adjust to a new reality and most of the time I’m as happy as I was when the kids and I were all younger and learning and struggling.

But then I guess we don’t ever stop learning and struggling or at least I haven't and I don't think that's a bad thing. For me, the alternative would be to give up, sit down in the rocking chair. watch the world go by and whine, “oh, poor me”. I’ve met a few of those over the past few years and I think I’ll pass.

In a way, if you’ll pardon the saying, it’s like being born again, a second life with all the joys and excitement and fears of the first one. The plus side, however, is having a little more upstairs than you did the first time around.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I prefer to think of myself in terms of a t-shirt I saw one day in a store. It said, “I’m not aging, I’m marinating”. Somehow that sounded a lot better to me and hopefully the end result will find me richer and more flavorful as well.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Happy Birthday, Sylvia. Hope reaching another birthday is a joy.

Sylvia, having more upstairs the second time around is a very apt description. Even though my children are still at home, I get a sense of that second life acoming. Thank you for writing such a meditative piece and may your marinate long and tastefully.

My sentiments exactly!

Happy Birthday Sylvia. I married very young but because of a heart condition I was told by my Doctor that having babies would possibly kill me. I disregarded his opinion. Now, here I am in my seventies with five children, fourteen grandchildren, and seventeen greatgrandchildren. I've been marinating for a very long time so thanks for reminding me how wonderful and "flavorful" life is.

Beautifully told, Sylvia. We hear so much about getting older -- most of it excruciatingly negative or ridiculously pollyanna. It's nice to hear someone with balance.

I loved this essay! I so enjoy marinating!

Happy Birthday, Sylvia. I hope it's a wonderful new beginning for the years ahead.

I loved your sentiment that being an elder is like being born again. I never thought of it that way, but you are so right. Nothing in my life now is the way it used to be.

"It sometimes seems like it was only yesterday that our big house there was overflowing with four young children. I always seemed to be whirling around cooking, cleaning, and sewing. My husband always seemed to be telling me to slow down, stop the clock, take a breath. The long days with early mornings and late nights wiping noses, patting bottoms and singing lullabies."

Sylvia,I could have written that. It was exactly the same at my house.

And then, one day I looked around and no one was there. Where was everybody?

Oh, they had wives and husbands and kids and houses and jobs and if you asked those kids where their Nanny lived, one of them once said,"She lives at the airport. If we want her to visit us we just go there and get her."

Happy Birthday to you, Sylvia. May we both "Marinate" for a lot of happy years. We must have done something right; they're still living (The patches we put on them held) and they still like us.


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