I know I’m entering the end stage of my life. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this most interesting time. When I was younger, I was so sure of myself. I was busy all the time. But now…not so much.
Back then, husband, children, parents, in-laws, out-laws, family, friends, and the Lord filled every moment of every day.
When things changed, I grew a career. Cared for other people. Learned so many new things about myself and life.
The children grew up. Gave me beautiful grandchildren. Moved away.
An empty house wasn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be. But I stayed busy. It didn’t bother me much.
When Dad was ill, I had the time to help care for him. He left the earth ten years ago.
After Mom moved in with me, we had a great time. She struggled with so many things, but always bounced back. I was sure she always would.
One morning, death snuck in when no one was looking and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
She’s been gone two months. It seems my heart is still draining a bucket of tears. I don’t have any idea how long it will take for my tear-bucket to be empty.
I’m sitting here alone wondering ‘what now?’ I’m not ready to buy a plot and retire from life.
I feel like I’ve been dropped into a foreign country where I don’t know the language. I don’t understand the culture. I can’t figure out how to maneuver through the streets, the experiences, and the emotions that permeate my life these days.
I’m splashing around in unfamiliar waters. Maintaining a family with growing children took so much time and energy. Maintaining a career took a lot of time and energy. Caring for sick and dying parents took an immense amount of time and energy.
And now it’s just me.
I confess that living a quiet life was a fantasy of mine. After enduring ten years of babies in diapers, raising four hormonal teenage aliens, and watching eleven grandchildren come into the world; my life was continuously full of laughter and crisis and movement.
I dreamed of having the time to do the things I wanted to do instead of fulfilling, and sometimes failing, in my many and diverse responsibilities.
However, now that I have endless days, it’s not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. I didn’t think this ‘alone’ thing would be so hard. I didn’t factor into my fantasy the constraints of dealing with an aging body that sags and drags and aches in odd places.
When I was 20 years old, I made a list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. I thought it was a fairly reasonable list. I figured that the 60 to 80 years I had ahead, a seemingly endless number of years from my childish perspective, was plenty of time to complete my list.
I guess I’ll cross off ‘become an astronaut.’ I no longer want to back pack around Europe. Or hike across the United States. Elvis is dead, so that dream date will never happen.
I acknowledge that I need a new list. An almost 70-year-old woman can still function in the world of dreams. I’m sure of it.
What do I want to do? I’ll probably have to pack my new “100 things to do before I die” into the next 10 to 30 years. My mortality looms larger and closer with each passing day.
I’m afraid of many more things, people, and circumstances now than when I was young and invincible. Leaving the house is difficult for me sometimes. I’m no longer brave enough to drive through snow or the threat of a blizzard. I’m suspicious of strangers who knock on my door or call me on the phone. My outside motion sensor light lit up twice last night. I stuck my head out the window to try and hear if someone was siphoning gas from my car.
It was a cat.
On reflection, I realize that one should not stick one’s head out the bathroom window at 3:00 at night to check for bad guys. Duh.
I want to be wise. Not stupid. Not paralyzed.
The dreams I dreamed as a young woman are no longer valid. I finally have time to catch up to myself and look around for new dreams. Is it silly to say that I don’t know what I want to be as I grow older? What’s possible? Where do I start? What if I don’t finish? Does it matter?
There are so many unanswered questions in my life.
What I do know is that it’s finally time for this old lady to make some new dreams.
Onward and upward.