In a previous post I mentioned the first car I ever had. My father bought it and I’m sure it must have been a bargain. Just having a car was a thrill…I didn’t care what kind of car. For me any car was a plus.
Fortunately I was young enough (?16,17?) that the problems the car had were like an adventure to me. The car was a Willys Jeepster. It was not new and had some interesting challenges. It would not go over 50 mph unless you were going down a long hill.The seats were bolted to the floor so there was no adjusting them to reach the clutch and change the gears. I used a pillow to reach. There was a starter button in the floor (how many people ever heard of such a thing?). It was a convertible…you pulled the top up and down. It did not have windows…only side curtains. ?Isinglass? Before plastic. (Now you are getting how old I am.) We lived in northern Virginia and it was cold in the winter. There was no heat. My friends and I didn’t care a jot. We had transportation! In the winter we bundled up and sometimes rode with the top down when it was snowing.
The car’s idiosyncrasies gave us an opportunity to meet people. For a while the starter button in the floor did not reach something called the “starter connector” in the engine compartment. There were two options for starting the car. You either had an available person to put a piece of metal between where the starter button was supposed to connect to the starter connector so that it would reach or we pushed the car. Old cars started easily by someone pushing and someone popping the clutch. If we parked the car when in town we usually searched for an end spot so we could jump start the car if needed. We parked on hills when we could as just drifting down a hill would give us enough motion to start the car. We would also get help from people who stopped to help us. We met lots of boys this way.
Once, in heavy traffic, I stopped for a red light. I didn’t realize that when stopping I pulled up on the steering wheel…..it came off in my hand. With great aplomb I pushed it back on and held it that way until getting off the road. There was a bolt that held it on and we managed to fix it.
The car met it’s final demise while we were in downtown Alexandria. We began seeing smoke coming from the front of the car and pulled into the nearest filling station. It was not the radiator but all the wiring in the front was merrily in flames. The station attendant raced out with a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. My father retrieved us and the car went “where the lost things go.”
This was life in a different era. It was not dangerous for young girls to wander around town and meet strangers. Most roads had speed limits of 50 mph or less. Looking back it seems it was a kinder era. Maybe not…I may have just imagined it that way. I wish it were so now.
This week I have been sad. I don’t know if it was my birthday and getting older or the autumn and the darkness. It could be all of the above. It has brought to mind some things that I used to do and don’t any more.
I used to bake for Christmas. I made lots of sweets for everyone. I no longer have someone to bake for. The two of us have no desire to eat lots of Christmas sweets. My grandchildren are grown up (all except one who is in his teens) and not around to bake for or with. It was fun to make treats with my children and grandchildren.
For some reason I stopped sending Christmas cards. Our years of moving around made me lose track of many people. Our life is different now and it seems that there are many people who don’t send cards. In a way that is a regret. It was a job to get them done but a wonderful way to keep in touch.
I don’t have as much money to spend on gifts and so I try to be resourceful and creative in the things I find. This has been a plus as it has helped me to spend time on what really matters. It also reminds me of those who have nothing.
Again, life changes and we have to experience each phase. We can’t opt out if we plan to live on. Getting older can present challenges but so do other phases of life. To really live we have to seize each moment and know it will not come again.
Even though I have been sad sometimes sad can be a season of remembrance. It can be a time when we think about how different things are and plan to choose to live this moment. In this season of darkening skies and leaves falling life continues. Winter will follow and spring and on and on. The world is turning, time goes forward and I am still here to see it.
When I think about all that life has offered me I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Soon ( November 15th) I will have my 78th birthday. It is hard to believe. So much time has passed but it feels as if it were yesterday. My childhood with amazing parents and family. Even my mother’s long term illness which taught me so much about life blessed me and taught me endurance and persistence in the face of adversity. I think my anxiety was connected to her near death but life moved on as she chose to accept her restrictions and live.
College aided my growth as I struggled with IBSD and later an episode of Ulcerative Colitis. Graduation brought marriage to my amazing husband in 1962 and anxiety took a back seat for many years. Strangely enough the birth of 3 children brought me no stress but continued joy. They are all married with children of their own and one great grandchild.
It is easy to look back and see things that I would like to have done differently but those are the things we learn with age and experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that wisdom early on. The only thing that we can do is to share it with other generations and hope that some of it rubs off. When we are young we are so good at turning away from the wisdom of our elders. Our society doesn’t help as it is so youth focused. Too bad we are not part of the cultures that honor their elders and appreciate their wisdom.
I have had trials that tested my endurance and moments that have provided great joy. That seems to be the sum of life as we age. We can look back and contemplate the rough and the smooth and see the ways we withstood it all.
Long life is a true blessing and I am thankful for all of it….the good and the bad. It has made me who I am.
Ordinary has gotten a bad rap. There is nothing wrong in being ordinary. It’s just that the word sounds so bland. If we consider ourselves ordinary we think we fade into the background. No one notices us. We can feel that we don’t count.
Am I ordinary? In many ways I am. I lead what can be considered an ordinary life. I am middle class, bright enough, average looks…nothing unusual. At least that is one way to look at it.
For some of us ordinary could be a goal. If we struggle with being different, or at least see ourselves that way, ordinary could sound really good. Ordinary would look like everyone else…. the ability to fit in. And we struggle with not being able to. But we do fit in…just into our own place.
The truth is we are all ordinary in the good sense. Each of us has a place in the world. Each of us has something to give to the world. Each of us is important. Each life doesn’t have to shout “see me! see me!” to have meaning. Just being who we are is extra-ordinary enough.
The person each of us is has a role. Each of us is a part of life. Each of us is really extra-ordinary. There will never be another you or another me. That is enough.
We were without power again today. A squirrel committed suicide at the transformer. So sorry. I actually like squirrels although a lot of my neighbors don’t. I’m not sure why as they seem to cause few problems. We actually put food our for them as the trees here didn’t make their quota of nuts and the squirrels have been hungry and getting ready for fall. My dogs love to chase the squirrels but very, very rarely catch one. (thank goodness!)
This is the first day here that has felt like fall and although the days are shorter I am enjoying the cooler air. The air feels good. We live on the salt marsh and have an 8 ft tide. For most people who move here the smell of the marsh is not pleasant. Having been here most summers of my life and lived here for 42 years it is a joy to me. I love the smell. It reminds me of summers going to the beach. Good memories.
It is amazing how smells can trigger memories. My mother always wore the same perfume and when someone is wearing it I immediately think of her. Those kinds of things bring good memories.
There are also things that trigger bad memories. Recently a smell triggered memories of time spent in the hospital with severe bowel problems. Not a good memory. I immediately pushed that memory away.
I have found that it is possible to wallow in a good memory and accept all the pleasure that it brings. I have also worked on letting the bad memories slide in and out of my mind by mentally pushing them away. Usually it works. I focus on something else and drag my mind away.
Memories are part of our lives. It is part of what made us who we are but we don’t have to live in the bad ones. Living in the past can become addictive. We would be wise to enjoy the good memories and then move back into the NOW. Dwelling in the past can stop us from experiencing the present. NOW is what is important.
Life can be miserable. It can be painful. The thing is it’s what we have been given. No one’s life is free from trouble. That sounds like everything is awful but it’s not. Without the pain and the bad days how would we recognize the good when it comes. Life is lived in opposites. Good/bad, up/down, here/gone. We always have these things to deal with.
It is a quirk of human nature that we often spend time remembering the bad more than the good. The late song writer, Johnny Mercer, said it all: “we need to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It is so easy to remember ourselves and our emotions from the bad time. It is harder to remember the feelings of joy and euphoria. I don’t know why that is.
I can tell you stories of bad things that have happened in my past. They are vivid and come into my mind bringing sounds, smells and feeling. There are many more of those than of the wonderful moments. I have had many wonderful moments. Why are they less vivid?
I am beginning a journey of writing down the good memories when they come to me. It may be that they are vivid but I am not paying attention. That is why I know we need to log the good things that happen each day. There is a rule in nursing that if it isn’t written it isn’t done. I think the same thing is true of the good. Writing things down helps memory and I will be logging at least one each day.