That smiling baby is me about 68 years ago. I look back at her innocent little face, and think of all that has happened in her life, in my life, since this photo was taken. Just now, as I was looking forward to a peaceful afternoon, my husband stormed out of the house, yelling at me — saying I didn’t know anything about anything. What he means is that I am not a person who understands technology or mechanics. He knows very well that I am intelligent and that I know a great deal about many things. This is just one of his “days” — for our entire marriage, he has had these “days” — days when he feels the need to yell and belittle and be furious. And, then, he has better days. Sadly, though, in my heart, the “better” days can never make up for the “bad” days.
As this smiling baby grew up, she never knew what her life would be like at 68. None of us do. All of life is a mystery to us, if we really think about it. Looking back from this vantage point, I can see that we have no control over our destinies, only how we respond to them.
I began writing this blog in 2007 — back then, I was caring for my first newborn granddaughter during the day, and had a family business to help run. Now, twelve years later, I have three older grandchildren and twin grandbabies that I am once again helping to care for. Our family business was a casualty of the recession several years ago, and we now live on a very limited income.
I have friends who travel and eat out often, and have new cars and nice clothing. I don’t. However, I do have friends who understand and care, and we get together regularly to talk and laugh and drink wine, and help each other through the tough times of aging. We lost one of our friends this summer to cancer, but I know, even though we feel sad, her spirit is right there with us — we just aren’t able to hear her laughter right now.
I have three children and five grandchildren that I love beyond measure. I live in a cozy old house in an historic district. It needs work, but it is my sanctuary, regardless of its sagging porch and worn kitchen. I have become very active in a local group formed to preserve our historic district and other historic areas in our town. This has given me purpose, as well as much new knowledge of how town and county governments work. Some of the members have been long-time friends, and others are new friends — and I thoroughly enjoy being with them all. I feel my horizons stretching with each new person I meet.
As I’ve grown older, some health problems have set in, but I go for regular checkups and try to follow my doctors’ instructions. I try to stay healthy so I can enjoy this life of mine, and watch my grandchildren grow up.
I love to feed the birds and savor the sights and scents of my garden in the summer, and watch the snow falling gently in the winter. I have a large collection of books, and always have a book beside my chair to read. I enjoy lingering at book sales and consignment shops and estate sales. I never know what treasure I may find. Most of all, I love the time I spend with my friends and family.
Obviously, my life has taken a path I would not have expected — happily ever after was not in the cards for me, but I make sure that I treasure each pleasure that comes my way, enjoy my relationships with friends, new and old, and try to not dwell on the “might-have-beens”.
Life is too precious to fret about what we wish we had done differently; we need to live in the here and now — and not miss a moment of joy. If I could look that little baby in the eyes and tell her how her life would turn out, I would tell her to always look for the happiness in a situation, treasure those who treat you well, find your bliss and enjoy it, and never worry about wrinkles and gray hair when you get old — just pray that you grow old, and can have the immense pleasure of holding your grandchildren in your arms.