I am hitting a milestone birthday this month. It is a big one. I am officially entering "the last part of the day", as Bob Dylan terms it. Each passing year it is apparent that I have much to be thankful for, including good health, and good relationships, and good friends, and good neighbors. There is a steadily rising tide of news regarding people I have known for decades, already gone or soon to be leaving. I know I am old but I still wonder who is the old woman in the mirror, though I have had more than enough time to acclimate to being an old human being.
I have noticed many changes in the world at large. Young people cannot read my cursive writing, and they are not children but adults. A person's handwriting is as distinctive as their personality, instantly recognizable. I lament an art that was lost in so few years!
Young people cannot pronounce my given name. It stumps them. They erroneously try to pronounce the first syllable with a soft "C". It was once a very easy name for people to recognize and say correctly. It is remarkable that our language changed so in such a short time.
Often I am surprised by the kindness of young strangers willing to help me carry a large bag of dog food, or load heavy items into my car. I graciously turn down their offers because if it is something I can still do, it is a small victory against the inevitable decline. It is always such a pleasant experience when someone offers to help, though. I am grateful for their kindness and concern.
On Thanksgiving this year, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that the tide has turned irrevocably for me. I was opening a container of gravy when it somehow slipped out of my hands. It spilled that precious golden nectar down the cupboard and onto the floor, much to everyone's dismay! Before I could even think what to do, both of my adult children immediately set to cleaning up the mess. I am no longer the de facto supreme ruler of this family. I am no longer The Mom. My children quite naturally cooperated, managing the minor crisis, male and female. I felt it quite deeply, minor as it was. I do not have to take care of everything all the time now. My family is in capable hands.
It might be difficult to see through the craziness in the world right now, but the young people coming up are going to be okay. They grew up in a world different than that of my baby boomer generation. A million things that are still fresh in my mind they did not experience and have no frame of reference. Of course the world changes. It changes every single moment. I try to stay up on things simply because I do not want to be left too far behind, but with each passing year it matters less.
The newest and best television and movies display an inclusive world. Each of the various Tolkien races in The Rings of Power contain human actors of every race. The Walking Dead, an apocalyptic science fiction series that aired for 11 seasons, showcased women warriors every bit as capable, heroic and brave as the men, sometimes even more than the men. In my lifetime, the first woman I saw on the screen that did not fall off her high heels was Princess Leah! Our entertainment has changed to be as inclusive as real life. A grand achievement!
Though climate change still engenders an enormous amount of angry deniers, the earth herself is delivering the message to each human personally. Quite soon there will be no argument left, no possible or plausible denial, It will be life and death for millions of people. Humans will either change or perish. It is simple. Other countries are far ahead of the USA, countries where humans make their decisions, not corporations.
Maybe we will wake up but maybe we will argue with ourselves until it is too late. After all the wonderful progressive science, education, industry and social advancement America achieved in my life, we have lately fallen into polarized hate, anger and ignorant denial, crazy conspiracy theories, and tragic domestic gun violence. It is shocking. It is heartbreaking. I think it is ultimately life as usual. There is always something on this earth that presents true challenge and requires courage and sacrifice.
For me personally, it is hardest to admit there are things that I can no longer physically do. (Well, I can probably do anything at least ONCE more!) I sometimes dream I am on the highway, riding my Harley effortlessly across all the miles. And when I wake up, I am happy. I cannot dance, but I can watch young people from all over the world dancing on TikTok - the next best thing! I can no longer walk up the front steps carrying five gallon water jugs, so I bought three gallon water jugs. Some day I will not be able to walk those up the steps, either. I will think of something when I get to that.
So, it will soon be my birthday and then Christmas, and the New Year and so on and so fourth. As my old confidant, Bob Dylan says: "I feel a change coming on, and the fourth part of the day is already gone."
In time honored fashion: