Pause…Push the Rewind Button, and Remember
I’ve only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give an account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.
Dr. Benjamin E. Mays
I’m sitting at my sacred space, writing personal letters and notes in greeting cards. As I do so, a dose of reality intrudes. My life is changing…as I grow into my golden years I feel a profound sense of loss: my best friend is suffering from dementia. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease, and my husband is a disabled veteran afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder and the myriad ailments it generates.
I am acutely aware of what is happening as I compose messages for loved ones. I can’t pick up the phone and yak with my sister about stuff – I call my best friend my sister because I don’t have any biological female siblings. We shared so many interests. We did so much together: we both gave birth to daughters in the same year! She used to get on me for being so organized. There was a time when I planned everything – meticulously –okay…okay…almost everything. I could always count on her for advice, straight talk, and lots of love. I am the adventurous-damn-it-all-to-hell-and just-go-for-it person. She was my rock. She would yank me back to earth in a heartbeat – no apologies offered thankyouverymuch. She knew me.
Mama was my inspiration, my first – and most enduring – role model. She believed in me, saw promise in me, and never gave up – even when I veered off course. She imbued me with her strength, her faith, her perseverance, and her kindness. She taught me how to be a woman and a friend. She knew me. My husband struggles, daily, with horrible memories so firmly embedded in his consciousness they’ll never leave him. He loses more of himself every day: his need to feel safe overrides everything else. I am always grateful for those moments when we’re able to connect – when the man I married years ago surfaces.
I don’t think of myself as an old woman, a senior citizen or any of those other age-related labels. As far as I am concerned my daughter is the one who’s getting up in age!!! Still, as my daddy used to say, “I’m no spring chicken.” Me, well, let me tell ya…I’m like a mellow Bordeaux – I just get better, sweeter, and earthier…Life, for me, is still an experience meant to be lived fully, completely, joyously, and with gusto…
Nonetheless the stakes have shifted, the terrain is more uneven. I contend with issues I never dreamt of…I’m long past my childbearing days and I’m reasonably certain I’ve lived through menopause. I remember my youth but do not yearn for it. I’ve enjoyed every decade of my life to the very best of my ability and that’s saying a lot ‘cause I’ve gone through some changes I hope never to repeat. I’ve had mountain-top encounters and I’ve spent many a day in the valley searching valiantly for the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve waltzed with despair, shadow-boxed with indecision, partied with jubilation, and faced myself in the mirror many a morning after…I’ve courted disaster and gone down in flames more than once, only to rise again, dusting myself off, having happily discovered the benefits of looking up. I believe I have much to offer, yet my personal triumphs have a bittersweet edge. Some of the people who mean the most to me can no longer taste victory and celebrate with me.
Yes, I’m writing messages in greeting cards – I want to stay connected to the gifts life gives me: the loved ones who add meaning to my life. I want to remain in contact and a telephone call isn’t always enough. Email is out of the question – not everyone I know and love chooses to be part of cyberspace and there’s nothing wrong with this decision. FACEBOOK and Twitter are not options.
I’m composing letters and notes to express feelings, to communicate care and concern – to say, “I’m thinking about you…I miss you…I love you.” I’ve got a full life – I’m happy to be where I am, doing what I do; but something subtle and unseen demands that I acknowledge the vicissitudes, vagaries, transitions, and realities of longevity. My life is changing and sometimes it helps to pause, push the rewind button, and just remember…be grateful…smile…laugh. Or, as the Rt. Reverend Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church told student Belles – and other assembled congregants – at Bennett College’s Founders’ Day Convocation September 28, 2014, get up, go on, and keep it movin’…snap, snap, snap.
©October 2014 by Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes. Previously published on www.afterwriterdreams.com