I don’t know if it’s the “hunker-down” effect of the typically cold, wet weather this time of the year that has us quasi-hibernating indoors or what, but we tend to reminisce about past years, people we’ve lost, times we’ve shared with people who may not be part of our lives anymore.
Some of those memories can bring a smile to our face: a child opening a special gift, a practical joke that had everyone laughing, the touch of love from a family member we cherish. But it can sometimes cast a pall over a day when we remember someone who can no longer be a physical part of our lives. It can even darken the memory of an occasion that brought great joy at the time when we realize that it can now live only in snapshots of our remembrance.
Several sayings come to mind as I take the edge off with a glass of Cabernet. One is the oft-repeated truth that “life is change.” You don’t have to live long to know the truth of that one. One day, you’re a carefree college student worried only about where the weekend party will be, and the next day you’re fretting over making the mortgage payment and having that conference with a teacher because your child was fighting another child on the playground.
Eventually, the day comes when those memories will be cherished, as those children go out on their own and you realize you’re not needed nearly as much by them.
As you deal with the empty nest they’ve left behind, you begin to settle into the senior years. Then one day, that empty nest truly becomes empty as we lose a spouse, and we begin to look back fondly on the days when there were two instead of one.
All these changes are inevitable because time marches on, and we’re just riding that train to the end.
Hey, it’s the only game in town, so you might as well play it, and play it with a smile on your face, because any other way makes no sense. Why drag your feet and linger in the past? Let the past stay right where it is, but be enriched by it. It’s like we wear this incredible battle gear covered in epaulets that mark the path we’ve trod. Be proud of what came before and be just as determined to make the present and the future the best it can be.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard came from the Indigo Girls’ song, “Hammer and a Nail.” Check out all the lyrics, they’re inspirational. But the chorus says, “Gotta get out of bed, get a hammer and a nail. Learn how to use my hands, not just my head. I think myself into jail. Now I know a refuge never grows from a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose. Gotta tend the Earth if you want a rose.”
So get out there, no matter what your situation is. Put on some old clothes and start planting some bulbs to grow beautiful flowers in the months to come.
Get into some arts and crafts. Meet other people while you create something beautiful that you can be proud of.
Weave a basket, make a stained-glass ornament to hang in your kitchen window, hammer a nail and build a frame for a cherished photo. The opportunities are limitless.
Sharon Robles is a teacher for Charleston County Schools. She is a mother of three grown children who are all artists.
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