(Thank you, all, for the great ideas for my 100th post. So many great suggestions. I’m going to use them all in future posts but I had to pick just one for today. I decided to go with Lori’s suggestion since it is the end of Jane-a-kuh. A reflective piece. Great idea! Thanks to everyone who participated. And stay tuned to see your suggestion in print!)
I remember sitting in school figuring out just how old I’d be if I made it to the year 2000. 37. Oh my God, that seemed so old. It is 2009 and I just turned 46. Thirty-seven ain’t so old anymore. But to live to 100? That would be the year 2063. Now that truly does feel old. And I suppose it should.
When I was a senior in high school my AP English professor had us write a piece – Where did we see ourselves in 10 years? I wrote a sarcastic vignette. I painted the picture of me, as a stay at home mom, happily married with 2.3 kids. A cat. A dog. A flower garden. A white picket fence. The picture I created was so far from who I thought I was. I was going to college. To become a professor myself. Get published. Be the president of the University. I had no time for baking cookies and looking after children.
Fast forward 10 years. (And this is a true story. I kid you not.) My husband’s brother was getting married. We were both teachers working for meager wages. My 10 year reunion was the same summer but we could only afford to go home for one event. The wedding edged out my reunion. No big deal. I hadn’t stayed in touch with my classmates anyway. Sure there were a few I would like to see, and a few teachers, too. But a wedding IS more important.
On our way home from the wedding, driving down I-75 through Ohio I noticed a sign for Tiffin. That’s where my English professor grew up. I remembered the stories he shared with us. It was also near Clyde, Ohio where American author Sherwood Anderson grew up. We read Anderson’s book “Winesburg, Ohio,” a favorite of my professor’s and now a favorite of mine. I was sharing this story with my husband and glanced to my right while I was talking. We were passing a car and who was driving? Dr. Wilson! I told my husband to slow down. I scribbled my name and graduation year on a piece of paper and plastered it to the window. Dr. Wilson recognized me and smiled. He rolled down his window. “I’m teaching at the University now. Find my email and write!” I told him I would and we went our merry way.
When I sat down to write I began filling him in on the details of my life. Married. Teaching. A dog. A cat. A flower garden. With a baby daughter on the way from Korea. (Only 1.3 more kids to go) We even had a white picket fence. After marriage I discovered a love for cooking and baking. I was planning on teaching only part-time once my daughter arrived. I was living the sarcastic paper I wrote just 10 years ago.
And now Lori has asked me to fast forward 54 years. With the luck I had with predicting my life in 10 years I hope I’m just as successful with 54. My great-grandmother lived well into her 90’s. My great-uncle is still doing well at 93. Living to 100 is certainly a possibility. But I probably won’t have a dog or a cat. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford to pay someone to keep up with my flower garden. I wouldn’t mind that white picket fence but somehow I think I’ll be living in some assisted living facility – and that would be ok, too. But these things won’t be important. The mark I may have left on this earth will.
My greatest wish is that I’ve loved my children well. That I’ve allowed them a life that builds confidence and joy. And that they, in turn, are well on their way to making their own positive imprint. I hope for grandchildren and maybe a great-grandchild or two. I hope to have an active mind and as active a body one can have at age 100. My husband is in health care and into healthful living. Couple this with the fact that he is a few years younger than me, I hope he is still by my side. I hope I’m still making friends of all ages.
And while I sit here and dream about what my life will be like so many years from now none of the tangible accomplishments – awards, books written, monetary markers – come to mind. They seem so secondary. So unimportant. The mark I want to leave begins and ends with the love I share with my family and friends. If I can help to create, convince, or cajole more peace, more kindness, more love — that is what I want to be known for. No prizes necessary. No awards to be won. Just turning hearts. I want to be a positive force that leaves the world a better place. Just another drop in the ripple effect.
When I was 18 dreaming about age 28 I was so cynical. Critical. Convinced that I knew what was right. Now, at age 46 dreaming of 100 I am hopeful, optimistic and settled. Having all the answers isn’t important to me anymore. I’m comfortable that I may never be well-known for my “accomplishments.” I don’t need public accolades and fanfare.
I just want to be happy. And to make others happy in the process. And if I achieve this? I will be perfectly satisfied.