Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Fiddy-Six

I'm fixin' to be fiddy-six.  Now, isn't that just a good enough age to be?  My hair is getting more and more silver, which is a beautiful color for hair.  I am free of trends and fashions.  I am comfortable in my thinning skin.  I laugh at myself. Sure I can speak my mind, but I can also speak my heart without embarrassment or fear.

I'm not crazy about the aches and pains and I'm certain  that I used to be smarter.  But I'm also certain I'm wiser now.  And at the end of the day, I reckon wisdom trumps smarts. 

I don't really understand the obsession our culture has with sustaining youth.  Just glance at those magazines in the checkout line.  Everyone of them promises the secret to feeling and looking younger.  Why is that?  At what age do we stop wishing to be a bit older and start wishing to be a bit younger?  I guess it must be around 27 for most people.  I think that's such a waste.  I'm so much cooler than I was at 27.

Why don't we just embrace the age we are now?  Right now, I'm older than I've ever been before and I'm really ok with that.  If I get smashed to death by a falling oak tree tomorrow, that would be ok with me, but I'd be a bit disappointed that I have so much more to do. My bucket list grows faster than my to-read list.   

There are a few pearls of wisdom I've collected from the great philosophers of the ages over my years.

  • Life is short, but it's wide
  • You can't always get what you want
  • Obla di, obla da life goes on
  • To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under heaven
  • What you think about me is really none of my business
  • Everything is holy now
  • Sometimes you just gotta
  • Listen
  • Love and knowledge are never wasted
  • Things will own you if you let them
  • There's a big problem with perfection
I'm sure there are more, but you know, I don't remember things like I used to.  I think it's because I'm taking up valuable memory space with gems such as the exact words used to break my heart every single time it's been broken.  That's a lot of times.  Lucky for me that thing heals.  And how boring would life be if you didn't have your heart broken by cruel middle school kids or a forgotten anniversary or the death of a friend or loving someone who didn't love you back?  My bridge master told me that if I didn't go set a third of the time, I wasn't bidding bravely enough. 

Be fearless!  You get better at screwing up the  more you practice. 

In the seconds before that big oak tree falls on me if I have any regrets, I hope to honk they are for things I've done and not for things I haven't tried.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From Tiny Acorns

The Cutest Acorn in the Garden
There is a connection between the falling of the great White Oak in my front yard and the month-early birth of my grandson. It’s a connection one feels with that other sense – the sense that bypasses the thinking brain and goes straight to the soul. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I am sorry for you.

The oak tree is well over a hundred years old. One of six in my front yard. This one was closest to the house. My husband’s new car was parked in the driveway when the storm came. He and Blanche, our dog, were in the opposite side of the house. The tree broke off about three feet below ground and fell exactly where it would do the least amount of damage. It just clipped the corner of the garage with its grand trunk. A large limb lay across the hood of the car but it didn’t actually hit the car. When the car was moved, the limb remained in place. There wasn’t so much as a scratch in the car’s paint. It was all over and the wind was calm when I got home from work.

The tree easily could have cut our little house in two. It could have taken some other trees with it. It could have killed my family. It could have uprooted and torn up the driveway and the shade garden. It could have landed on our neighbor’s house. It could have. But it didn’t. It was the noble dying gesture of a very kind, great tree whom I loved and who loved me. No one can convince me otherwise.

My grandson was born in a different sort of storm. His mother, my daughter, is the strongest and bravest person I know. If I ever grow up, I hope to be like her. She jumped through hoops to maintain her fertility. Two years of Lupron without complaint. And her pregnancy was no bed of roses, though I didn’t know that until the very end.

She was in and out of the hospital a few times in the days before the baby was born. I kept getting long distance updates from my calm-sounding son-in-law. Back pain, inducing labor. . .then kidneys not working, fast fever. Plane tickets! Labor went nowhere so they broke her water and there was lots of blood. My baby couldn’t breathe and she saw stars. Within minutes she delivered not only my grandbaby, but an appendix that was headed south. I was headed north to Chicago.

By the time I got there, they were both out of intensive care. The storm had passed. But like the storm that took the tree, this one left more to do. My daughter will require more tests and treatment. But after a week in hospital they are home.

Collin Joseph, my perfect grandson was 7 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. We’re all relieved he didn’t go full term in that respect. He has taken to eating like a pro. He belches and farts and makes funny faces. He’s a champion pee-er and pooper! What a boy!

And it’s so much fun watching my perfect daughter and son-in-law enjoy him so much. My daughter is eight years older than I was when I had her and eight years more ready to be a mother. She’s calm and so very happy and grateful.

I found seedlings growing near the tree. They will be nurtured and grow strong long after I’m gone. The big tree has been cut into pieces that will all be used. I have several two foot trunk pieces to use as stools. Longer pieces of limbs will be used to make raised garden beds. Some will be firewood to warm the house during South Carolina’s two weeks of winter. I have a friend who does lathe work and a brother who can carve wood. Maybe some branches will be used for furniture. I will always have a piece of that tree. And so will Collin.