I recently had a conversation with Grace. Though nearing her 70th birthday, you would never know it by looking at her. During our discussion, it was clear she was struggling. I am nowhere near the cusp of life’s seventh decade, though I did wake up crying on my 40th. Some birthdays just feel different than others.
Grace and I talk a lot. She is one of few people who can steady me when the Earth is shaking beneath my feet. Dutifully, she reminds me that the ground is not moving. I am. When I get overwhelmed and lose sight of what I should do, she calmly says, “Do the next indicated thing.” I trust her implicitly, so I follow the advice. My perspective changes and I realize that, once again, she is right.
Sometimes we discuss things one can view only by looking in a rear-view mirror. During those moments, it is like every life event happened just yesterday. Feelings of joy and sadness and love and heartache readily surface. They remain regardless the time that connects now with then. We feel the scars not seen by others. They evidence a good life, but a hard life. They are marks on the soul – lessons worth remembering.
Metaphorically speaking, 70 is a very special age. Autumn is giving way as Winter moves in. The coldest of seasons brings a desire to bundle up and sit by the fire sipping the tea of memories – all that was lost and all that was gained. It is a time when one has enough life experience to say, “If you have time to listen, I can help you understand.” I choose to listen. After all, people in their Winter years are older and have acquired wisdom. In many ways, they are stronger than the young.
Winter gives people time to reflect on their many accomplishments. Simultaneously, the mind gathers information to place alongside those accomplishments – dreams that slipped away unrealized. The contrast provides a stark reality which has caused countless souls to utter similar words before life’s last breath: “If I had to do it all over again, I would work less and spend more time enjoying my life.”
Those who stay the duration of life all experience this change of seasons. When the late of Winter sets in, we know that Spring is just up ahead. In order to see it, we must step through an exit door. On the other side, there is rebirth, warmth and peace. Flowers bloom, leaves bud and birds sing. The revolving doorway of seasons promises that life will, once again, renew itself. Grace is not yet in latter Winter. I am thankful for the many years remaining. I need her, and maybe she needs me too.
In the meantime, I hope she finds moments of enjoyable quiet to accept truths about who she is and the profound impact she has on the world: her selfless giving; her compassion and empathy; her willingness to take time for others when she has little to spare; her unwavering faith; her ability to gently teach difficult lessons; her desire to keep learning; her supportive nature; her love of music; her ability to inspire people to dance at parties; her love of fun; her commitment to marriage and family; her innate ability to recognize truth; her beauty; her forgiving heart; her rock-solid ethics; her strength; her resourcefulness; her intelligence; her courage; her resilience; her gardening talents and other too-many-to-count qualities that make her such an amazing person.
Grace is one of those people who is a gift to the world around her. People on the outskirts of her life would never guess that she has dealt with many difficult hardships and gracefully overcome each one. To me, that makes her one of the most successful humans on this planet.
I am richly blessed to have Grace as one of my closest friends. More importantly, I am proud to call her Mom.
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