When Things Were Not So Different

The following is a blog piece I wrote last year and never published. I think it’s time to let it out into the world.

Today I went to a life celebration for one of my memoir students. Lee was 93, a sweet and gentle man who smiled at his own frailties and took seriously all my suggestions to make his writing better. The gathering was small but filled with love and laughter as his family recalled his attention to detail and his endless storytelling.

It’s been a tough week here in the U.S. of A. Another mass shooting, angry ranting in the media, social and public, about the merits of gun control and the true tenets of a religion whose extremist members are suicidal would be killers.

Added to that is the ever present fact that I’m not getting any younger. No moisturizer or beauty sleep will iron out the wrinkles on my face. No amount of zumba or chiropractic will stave off forever the aches in my back and knees. I feel the pressure of time. Enjoy life, now, while you can, I tell myself. Use each moment to live your best life, there may be no tomorrow.

How can I reconcile my desire to accomplish certain things, to savor each moment, and to rewire my brain for happiness with the outside world and its horrors?

Can I stop watching the news? Cut off my social media? I’ll know it’s there anyway.

Hearing about Lee’s long and full life, at the funeral home this morning, at the lunch the family hosted afterward, and in his stories in my memoir class, I understand why this man was so loved. He was kind, he was gentle, he was tender. He lived through another horrific time: the Second World War, and worked as a young scientist on a secret project in the desert, far from home. And went on to establish a family and a network of friends, a home and a lifetime of useful work.

My mother once told me of the sad and lonely wartime Christmas holidays, for three or four years in succession, when she missed her husband and three brothers, all of them in mortal danger, knowing she’d only hear from them weeks after a letter was written, hopefully always by them and even then not knowing for sure they were all right.

We’ve been through tough times before. The world is like that. This is our time, and we can hide from that truth or use our time here to make our patch of earth and sky, the place from which our light shines forth, warm and suffused with love. A comfort. Like Lee.

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11 thoughts on “When Things Were Not So Different

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Linda . I resonate to much of what you say. We do all feel Father Time breathing at our backs… as we process the loss of loved ones and deal with aging ourselves. Still, I look forward to this spring, hopefully a distraction from our political madness. Take care, Carolyn FG

    ************************* Carolyn Ferris Gombosi 617.527.6807 – land line (voice messages) 617.230.1122 – cell (iPhone)

    ________________________________

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  2. As you suggest, we have to keep our heads up in these parlous times. At the same time, we must keep our eyes and ears open! Our mouths too when what was unthinkable becomes commonplace.

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  3. I needed this today, Linda. To claim our Time, our place where we stand, and to Use it, savor it. Lee was an inspiration To you, as you are to me.

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. Thank you for a beautiful piece and the reminder not to allow the outside world color what should be most important to us. And thank you for reminding me of Lee. He was a wonderful man and such an inspiration to me – so intelligent, kind, and gentle. He as a terrific example of how we can live through difficult times and maintain a softer persona.

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