Monday, January 19, 2009

How can it be?

How can it be that I:
  • Am about to be a Granny?
  • Have a son who is soon going to be 32?
  • That my daughter lives across the world?
  • That my baby is at university?
  • That I am living here in the middle of England?
  • That I have a sister living in Switzerland?
  • That my friends IRL are spread around the globe?
  • That I am a widow?
  • That the days of my youth and childhood are so clear in my mind?
  • That things which seemed impossible back then are common place now?
  • That communication is at the speed of light?
  • That I am 54?

There are times, you know, then things suddenly seem to stand still, and you see in crystal clarity where you are right now, and then the awe comes, as you look around your life right now and think..... how can it be?

It seems just yesterday that I was a child, playing barefoot in the garden, with a big bow in my hair. Just yesterday that I was a student standing on the steps of a cathedral about to be baton charged by police. Just yesterday that I walked down the aisle dressed in a beautiful wedding dress with a long train behind it. Just yesterday that I drove myself to the hospital to have that very first child of mine. Just yesterday that my friend Linds and I said a tearful farewell at the airport when she flew off to a new life in NZ. Just yesterday that I walked into this house and wondered what on earth Geoff had got us into. Just yesterday that David fell down the steps with Diana. Just yesterday I watched all 3 of my children finish their schooling. Just yesterday that my Dad died.

So many memories all stuffed into the nooks and crannies of my brain. Some infinitely precious, some hysterically funny, some which fill me with pride, some which were certainly learning experiences, for want of a more suitable word or two. Some heartbreaking ones in there too.

How can it be that I have forgotten so many things? How can it be that I am standing at the dawn of a new era in my own life? How many dawns do we get? Does anyone know the answer? Of course not. Granny-hood is something I am about to embrace with great delight, loads of enthusiasm and oodles of love. But my memories of being a new mother are so clear in my how can that little baby be about to become a father?

I look in the mirror, (and today was probably not the best day to do this, seeing that I have failed to straighten my hair and it is OUT.OF.CONTROL.) and this stranger looks back at me. A woman who has lines in the corner of her eyes, and rather appalling dark shadows underneath them. A woman who is certainly not in the full flush of youth any longer. A woman who has more grey in her hair right now than highlights. A woman who looks every one of those 54 years. A woman who has experienced most of what life can toss at her. Pain, joy, sadness, happiness, love, rejection, accomplishment, failure, peace and turmoil. Just your average woman.

But in my mind, I see that 20 something or 30 something year old. Full of dreams. Some....a great many, in fact, of the dreams have been accomplished, and some have been discarded, leaving space for new ones to grow.

It is easy at times, to just look at the present and often, to despair, but then in those moments of crystal clarity I talked of at the beginning, it is like seeing all that is, all that has been and all that is still to be, and then the question comes. How can it be? So many things. So many emotions. So many memories. They only come like this when you are older, you see. Sometimes it feels as if your heart cannot cope with any more joy or pain, and yet, still its capacity grows. And sometimes you feel as though you cannot find any more places to tuck away all those memories in your brain either. Full up. Limit exceeded. But you do. Of course you do.

I am so lucky. My brain chooses to discard the bad parts, generally, and remember only the good parts. The lessons learned are engraved on my heart, but the memories are allowed to fade. And new dreams replace the old, and new goals are set to focus on once again.

It is at times like these that I have to acknowledge that there has been some infinitely divine plan working throughout my life. Or else how can it be that the little girl running through the sprinkler in the garden back in Cape Town in 1958 is the same woman who is sitting at her computer in the centre of England writing this today? Soon to be a Granny?

Every one of those grey hairs was earned, believe me. The memories come at a price. Living the past 54 years has been a roller coaster, without doubt. But the term roller coaster is very apt, because the down times have been offset by the soaring heights throughout the years.

So that face, the one in the mirror, is the reflection not of conventional beauty. Oh no. That never was and never will be. (It has taken 54 years to admit that, people.) It is the face of a woman who is turning in the circle of her memories, asking in a whisper....How can it be? Why me? Why here? Why now? How have I been so blessed? How can so many years have passed? How can this heart grow any bigger? Where can I store all the new memories?

And the One whose plan it was, just grins, I suspect, and thinks....wait till you see what I have in store for you next.......


Laurie in Ca. said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful words Linds. I have been thinking these very same thoughts as I approach my 61st birthday in March. How can it be when I feel 30 in my mind and heart? Our babies having babies, oh wait and see how many years get knocked off your mind and heart when you look this baby girl in the eyes for the first time. Mine have made me younger at heart and they look at all my imperfections as natural and normal. You are about to get younger Linds, trust me, and you will love it. I love you.

Love and Hugs, Laurie

Dawn said...

I love this, as usual! But there is a sentence that begs a whole blog, please!

Just yesterday that I was a student standing on the steps of a cathedral about to be baton charged by police.

I know exactly what you are saying. I look in the mirror and cannot believe that I am 61 - I always try to figure out what my mom was doing when she was the age I am now - that is always an interesting thought, since she was so young when I was born.

You are in for so much adventure with that new little one coming so soon - I can't wait to see pictures! I'm glad for you - and that you're not in that stressful, unsatisfying job!

Luanne said...

Dawn has expressed my sentiments exactly. Please tell us more about what went on on the steps of the cathedral.

You are so blessed that your mind is able to discard the bad parts and instead look to the good. It sure makes it easier to live life doesn't it?

You have a wonderful outlook, and much to look forward to.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Yes, at 54 I feel the same. I was just thinking this past weekend how my memories are mostly of good things in my life. Rarely do I think of the bad.

I remember when my mom turned 60. I was quite young (having been born when she was 42!) so I didn't understand then but I do now.

She looked in the mirror and then at me and said at times she wondered who that woman was in the mirror. She certainly did not feel like she should be 60.

Chris said...

Oh my dear...I sat here and cried as I read! How well I relate!

My friend Cindabel and I were discussing over lunch the other day how we both longed for the days when we were in gradeschool together. The appliance installer today had been at his job for 13 years, and was one of her students in high school.

Where is Never Never Land when you need it???

Isabelle said...

How well you put it. Life is so exceedingly fleeting. And surprising.

But at least you're about to be a granny, unlike some of us.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

There are times when what you write makes me ache. Today was one of them. I also want to thank you, my friend, for joining me at this great age we've reached...well, before I charge ahead again into unknown territory a few weeks hence.

Are you writing your book?

Crystal said...

You. are. a. brilliant. writer!!! I love these words - they ring so very true for me too. Love the last paragraph :))

Sandra said...

Linds you are by far one of my favorite writers, I LOVE your posts and the realness and honesty with which you write.

This post was so good, I smiled and I almost cried.


Mary said...

Life, memories, experiences, challenges, passions, heartaches, discoveries, losses, life - we are on an amazing journey - that's for sure.

I think this is my favourite all time post.

Thanks for sharing some of your memories. Oh and don't worry so much about the gray hair or the wrinkles and baggy eyes - it's the heart that counts - and yours is doing just fine.

sending a hug and a blessing.

Joyful Days said...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Trying to figure out how more will ever fit in.


Needled Mom said...

Beautiful writings, Linds. Who would ever imagine life as it is when we are young with crazy dreams? Life is exciting, fun and unpredictable and I am glad to be along for the ride. Your life is about to become unimaginably exciting with this new one.

Butterfly Mama said...

WOW I'm sitting here with goosebumps! What a wonderful piece! You are amazing, your view, and I'm thrilled that you are soon to be a Granny.

I have a feeling you are correct about Him grinning about what's coming next!

Hugs and love,

Becky (aka Morning Glory) said...

From Barry, not Becky. This is wonderful Linds. I've been having those kinds of thoughts often in the past few days as I've watched my wife turn 60 are realize that I'm soon to be there too. Why don't I feel this old? My parents were waaay older than this at 60 weren't they? How did I get here?
You're right though---the lessons remain but the pain fades, and the joy of looking back and seeing how things worked out for the best, even in the worst situations, is rich. I wish for you the best as you experience this new dawn.

Becky (aka Morning Glory) said...

I just had to share your post with him. There are so many times you write something, and when I finish reading it, I just sort of breathe the word "Wow". This was one of them. Beautiful!

Janine said...

My best friend became a first time granny 2 months ago and she says that when she holds her granddaughter it is just like holding her own child.

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I have felt most of the emotions and thought many of the same thoughts you express here Linds, but you said it better than I ever could.

Simply great writing, my friend.

And trust me, until you hold that Bump in your arms you won't understand what it means to be a Grandma, or Granny in your case.

It's kind of like having your own babes: if you've never had a baby yourself, you'll never know what it's truly like, no matter how many books you read or how many people try to express how it feels.



PEA said...

A beautiful post with the question "how can it be?" that a lot of us in our age group are asking ourselves. I feel so young and yet when I look in the mirror, I see a 51 year old woman and can't believe that's ME. Quite often I find myself looking back at my life and being amazed that I got through this or that...also amazed at where my life has brought me today.

I am so excited for you becoming a grandma, you will love it so much. Others were always telling me that it's a feeling like no other and now that I have my own grandbaby, I UNDERSTAND what they meant:-)

I'm quite sure, like you, that the ONE who has planned our lives is having a great old time! lol xoxo

Linda said...

Oh Linds, you've expressed so many of my own feelings so perfectly beautifully.
There are times I look in the mirror and think, "Who is that woman?" (I still feel like a young girl in my heart.) Times I look at my grown sons with their children and think, "When did all that happen?"
The memories are precious and the ones we have yet to make will be equally so. Just wait till the "bump" makes her arrival!

Midlife Mom said...

I can so relate to this wonderful post Linds! I will turn 58 in the spring and I just can't imagine where the time has gone. I look in the mirror and wonder who the old woman is that is staring back at me! I feel 20 years younger in my mind but the old body creaks and groans when I try to do some of the heavy things that I used to do. Would I turn back the clock, no. Would I like my body to turn back its clock YES! lol!

Love your writing, you certainly have a wonderful way with words!! xoxo

Olson Family said...

Again - so beautifully written and expressed. The One has given you wisdom - thanks for sharing.

lakeviewer said...

You captured beautifully what our thoughts are at a certain time in our lives. Thanks for such evocative prose.

Dawn said...

I can't remember exactly when the bump is due??

There are several of my blog friends, you and Linda come to mind immediately, who need to collaborate on a book of devotions and thoughts for women. Seriously!