Well, today’s my birthday and you know what that means – retrospection time. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t imagine being 20 years older. I didn’t like thinking about it either because I was a morbidly obese, hypertensive diabetic, and discussions about life expectancy made me a little uncomfortable.
The Twin Towers were still standing then and my husband and I had just become grandparents for the third time, welcoming our first grandson. Our retirement years were right around the corner and crystal clear in my mind - my husband, myself, quilting retreats, road trips with my girlfriends, trying out Food Network recipes and, hopefully, more grandkids. I should have paid more attention to the words of poet Robert Burns…“The best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft agley.”
I’m approaching the 10th anniversary of my life’s “perfect storm” – my bariatric surgery fiasco, my husband on home hospice and then his passing all within 11 months’ time. In the aftermath, with essentially a healthier physical lease on life thanks to the surgery, I looked for purpose. Oh boy, did I look for purpose! I’ve found my reasons to get up in the morning but sometimes I wonder if I lost something while finding myself.
I guess the residue of that 20-year old retirement dream lingers. I’m not a typical grandmother and I struggle with that realization sometimes. Instead of grabbing my overnight bag to go babysit, I’m grabbing my camera bag. Instead of sitting up late at night wiping the feverish brow of a grandchild, I’m hunched over my computer trying to meet a deadline. And then there’s my pantry… grandmothers are supposed to be able to produce Sunday dinner complete with homemade chocolate meringue pie at a moment’s notice. My pantry and fridge make Mother Hubbard look like a hoarder.
With the exception of my older daughter and granddaughter who live in Bryan, my family is all over Texas and I’m lucky to see some of them once a year. My calendar is full of meetings and assignments, so much so that my younger daughter told me she only gets worried if she doesn’t see me on Facebook. Geez!
So, I ask myself just one year shy of being three quarters of a century old, what kind of legacy am I leaving my family? What kind of example am I setting for my children and grandchildren? Is it that of someone too busy for life, or of someone busy with life?
While pondering this grandmother-legacy angst, I found these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson satisfying and comforting… “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you lived and lived it well.”
So that my family, is the legacy I hope to leave you.
Oh, and by the way, if you give me enough notice, maybe we can schedule brownie making three weeks from next Thursday!
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.