How often I have mocked the phrase “Golden Years”, wondering where the sparkle might be hidden in these years that both advance and decline. We add years but the enjoyment of the moments can slip as the body dulls, chipping away at those dependable responses.
Recently, I reread a birthday letter sent to my husband as he celebrated his 74th birthday. Our oldest grandchild wrote from a heart mature beyond his years.
A daughter-in-law gave Bob a Christmas note that was a tribute to his loving interaction with all of the step-grandchildren. It, too, was very beautiful.
Out of state family have been with us since December 19, filling the house beyond capacity. It has been wonderful, though I must admit that some meals have become a choice between creamy or chunky. Grandchildren excitedly hoped for snow and are just as excitedly watching for melt. New bikes and scooters sit unused even though the adults have shoveled each day.
As I look at my adult children and at their children, I have new respect and no question about that Gold in the Golden Years. From my oldest son to my youngest grandson my life is filled with the most wonderful people…people that define family in the best of meanings. Courage to face unforseen challenges and to make choices that rock security. Dedication and determination to get life handled. Loving interaction with one another. Acceptance of faults and touting of virtues in one another. Family, baggage and all, providing all the Gold that any life could need.
I have wanted this blog to type itself because I have this huge need to ‘run-around-scream-and shout’ and I haven’t found the words. Things are a mess. More and more people are homeless. Houses in foreclosure. Bankruptcy filings by hard-working honest men and women being sucked into such difficulty. Food lines at kitchens and churches grow longer each week. Expenses climbing and salaries either not keeping pace or disappearing in company lay-offs or closures.
Look at the faces around you in stores, malls, churches. Bitterness and hopelessness are struggling in those faces. Prayer? Even men and women who have prayed for a lifetime say the word with rejection.
Health insurance premiums going unpaid so food is on the table.
Anger rising as people search for someone–something–to blame.
“How can it be that there is no solution? How can we continue when there are no answers? How long can we survive without work? Where do we live when the house is gone? What is wrong with me that I am in this place?”
Demoralized is a very ugly concept.
And, as these questions do not get answered, the anger continues.
If your family is blest with old-timers who remember the aftermath of the Great Depression, you have heard stories of life-when-mettle-was-tested-every-day.
You know the stories.
Treks against the wind, dark of night trips to the out-facility. Saturday night baths which might or might not include shampoo. Repetitious meals eaten with gratitude. Chores taking most waking hours. Falling exhausted on attic pallets where kids huddled for warmth. Even tales of icicles forming around the mouth from night breathing in the bitter cold. But the best is that story of walking miles to school, trudging through several feet of snow–uphill both ways! Talk about mettle!
No trudging in our SUV culture. No icicles in our down comfort world. Microwave meals insure variety for the most inexperienced. But, oh what fun to remind us (old-timers) that this December, 2009 snow storm is nothing compared to those other winter lives. What fun to see the smiles when we come in like powdered sugar creatures from shoveling–over and over and over. Suddenly, this life of downhill comfort trumps the need for those ‘good old days’ memories.
Perhaps you, Gentle Reader, are thinking about your family, wondering if it is possible to find the words. Perhaps you, like me, can find the trigger in the words of another. Perhaps our feelings merge and the combinations come close to full expression.
My adult children are each a measure of perfection. Many Mansions is part of a chapter title in our book, Four Ordinary Women. Those mansions are my children, wonderful in their similarities and overwhelmingly wonderful in their differences.
Recently, I wrote “Water From Another Time”. I am part of that water flowing over their lives and making way for fresh new waters. It is my privilege.
Not the turkey diced and ready for soup. Not the dessert plates covered with crumbs. Not the bits that are too much to ‘recycle’ and not enough to reheat.
Like the Ghost of Christmas Past we haunt our lives with left-overs that may or may not be true perspectives. Those earliest memories are not much more than haze but they cloud every new effort to dispel their power.
A harsh parent, an absent parent, a childhood of stark holidays can make a time of abundance feel like pain revisited. Early joys squelched as frivolous put an edge on honest joys that should win the see-saw. Exuberance looks like lack of control and something to squelch rather than a gift to honor. Beautiful parenting skills rust for a few days becoming discipline repeating the same ugly lessons.
Feels like a boot-strap to me. One of those clichés that leaves the baggage at the side of the road. No one walks away from a backpack that has looked perfectly serviceable for many years.
So the early lessons get carried like an old Etch-a-Sketch image turned upside down to erase— but the lines remain.
Fifty yard line fans contorted faces, screaming indignation as the coach and the team head for the tunnel. These fans wearing the colors and logos designed to identify them as the team support base. Ticket price and perceived loyalty giving the right to rant.
Later, TV studio…
Downcast eyes, weary voice and total denial from the coach accused of using that finger-signal to respond to the obscenities and rage from that fifty yard fan base. Reminds the viewer that he has five kids–that he is a role model–that he never has and never will use that finger signal. Talks about how tough it is to walk that particular fan path.
Sports commentator… Sparkle in his eyes, glee in his voice and relish of the moment…
“If anyone out there has a video of that finger gesture, we would love to have it!”
OK. All publicity is good publicity, right? Controversy stirs people to talk and write. “Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes.” Slime light is better than no light. Bring on the lions!
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house Every creature was cooking, even my spouse.
Too much food wrapped and frozen with care In hopes that the family soon will be there.
Grandchildren not nestled nor snug in a bed, Still running and jumping–constant games instead.
Papa and Nana with child on each lap Sat longing and hoping for a quick little nap.
When out in the drive there arose such commotion that I knew that the storm set new elements in motion.
Enough? Okay. No more. But I love the original Moore Christmas poem. I memorized it when my kids were young and now my grandchildren can give me the quizzical looks as I try to convince them that it is just the right length to memorize. Am I the only one who believes that this poem is a most excellent tradition?