by Terri Winder
Young people talk about getting old and about “being over the hill” as if it’s a bad thing.
Older and wiser people talk about the road of life while giving advice to stop and smell the flowers along the way. They also counsel us to remember that the joy is in the journey, not in the destination.
Well that makes sense, since the end of life’s journey is death.
Personally, I love where I am at on life’s highway, right this minute. I’m actually parked on a viewpoint known as the Great Outlook on Life. It’s not over the hill, it’s right here on top of it, where I can see everyone, both coming and going. I am enjoying this viewpoint as I can see where I’ve been and where I’m headed – and I have a great appreciation for both.
I realized it was time to pull over and take a break in my journey as I recently received the wedding announcement of a certain young man. It’s odd actually, as I don’t know his family well — they are really more acquaintances — but I have known his relatives most of my life.
His mother is the kid sister of a childhood friend. She is the first baby I actually remember as being “expected”; up to that point in my life, little humans just appeared.
I was happy for my friend when she got a baby sister and, because we lived in the same part of town, I watched that baby sister as she grew up.
She married a young man that I was also acquainted with. I tended him when I was a teenager and he was a little kid.
I remember overhearing him at church one day, after he became a teenager. He and his friend were talking about their “rides”. I recall a touch of swagger and boasting as they each described the features of their respective vehicles.
Amazingly, about five or six years later, I would round the same corner in the same church and run into the same two young men. They were having an eerily similar conversation – only this time it was about the unique features of the diaper bags they each had slung across a shoulder.
I chuckle every time I think of that, which is a good thing, because the baby that accompanied that diaper bag is now getting married. One should maintain one’s humor while aging, especially when one realizes she will soon witness the coming of a third generation.
This may seem extremely odd to you, particularly if you know I am a grandmother, but I wasn’t cognizant of my own birth, I was just here. Now I am realizing I have been here for quite a while. There’s a difference.
I have had the privilege of being in on a handful of five generation photos. In those photos I was the fifth generation, then the fourth generation, and then comfortably the third.
It is not without some misgivings that I realize I am poised to land in the second oldest generation position. However, knowing that most of my classmates are now orphans, I can only hope I will be able to hold onto that second place spot for some time to come. That’s what I’m thinking as I’m sitting here at the Great Outlook and just observing life.
I recall my great-grandmother, Seraphine Frost, saying that even though her body didn’t look like it on the outside, on the inside she still felt like a teenager. (She was about 90 years old then, and she acted 30 years younger.)
I am beginning to understand what she meant. There are days when I say, “I can do that” and my body replies, “No, you can’t.” It still comes as a surprise. Why? I don’t know. Cars break down and need replacement parts as they get older, why should we be any different?
I am also beginning to understand how quickly it all happens. The word journey is a little misleading; it’s really more of an 80 MPH trip along the freeway. Everyone lives life in the fast lane, really.
Still, I don’t know anyone who wants to relive their teenage years. (Though I’ve seen a few adults who still try to dress the same way they did as teenagers – which is unfortunate.)
And I’m not sure many people really want to go back to the poverty and sleeplessness of the early years of marriage and a young family.
We like to celebrate “firsts”: the first step, the first bike ride without training wheels, the first day of kindergarten, the first kiss, the first baby.
I also enjoy celebrating “lasts”: the last child to be potty trained, the last set of spelling lists, the last Eagle Scout, the last child to go through Driver’s Ed, and (we’re almost there!) I’m looking forward to the last set of braces and the last high school graduate.
There are definite advantages to being on top of the hill. Not only is the view incredible, but the perspective is too. There’s an accompanying appreciation for the value of life, for each human being, for each day, for each act of kindness. Even as the younger generations look more youthful to me, so does the older generation. In fact, all of life looks really wonderful right now.
I like this outlook very much. I would like to stay here just a bit longer but life’s a journey, and I need to get back on the road. Evidently, I have a hill to get over before I can get to where I’m going.