Homebodies - Teetering on the top rung?


Rita Friesen
Neepawa Banner & Press

For many years I felt like the filling of a sandwich- caring for those beneath me, children and such, and caring for those above me, parents. You know how you make a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich by heavily spreading the peanut butter on the bottom slice and the jelly on the top and then forcibly compressing the two? (yes, there is a correct way to make a pb and j sandwich!) I felt a lot like that compressed goo. First my mother passed away and then, ten years later- eleven plus years ago- my father died. Not only was I an orphan, I transferred from the filling to the upper crust in this sandwich of life.

I have thought a great deal about this steady and natural progression of old age. Most of the women that I looked up to and admired are already gone. In many instances I have had the opportunity to thank them for the example of goodly living that they set. Compassionate, caring, humorous, servants. As I expressed my appreciation, they were invariably surprised. They had seen themselves as simply living the best life they could. Recalling my watching them, I wonder who is watching me and what do they see? I can’t say that I volunteered to become the leader of the pack, the old girl on the block, the next in line. But it happened. That is one part of my grief when I recall all those whom I have loved that are now dead – my parents, my aunts and uncles, my parent’s friends who were more than friends to me, almost more surrogate parents- I am now a front line warrior.

Another simile I like is life is like a ladder, and I am nearing the top rung. The view from here is intriguing. Things from the past, the offences and the offenders are smaller. My father had a saying that drove me nuts. When life seemed unfair, or I was denied privileges he would ask – what difference will it make 40 years from now? To a child, or a youth, the idea of anything forty years from now is inconceivable. But, alas, too often he was right. I am not referring to life changing tragedy, for that can affect our life forever. But the little petty annoyances. Really, 40 years hence, I laugh.

This view from the top rung – and thankfully I hope to linger and enjoy the view- is so different from any I expected. Let’s face it, I never thought about growing old, still don’t! It does place my past in fine definition, I had it good. I am blessed. Others on the higher rungs are meeting my eyes with wisdom and knowledge exchanged in a glance.

In a local restaurant I overheard a conversation between a young child and male adult. As the child slid out of the booth his jacket caught on his pants. He turned and asked – how did that happen? The wise adult replied – how does anything happen? I am now 72, how did that happen?