I spent the better part of this afternoon with a friend; we ciphered out 21 years we’ve seen each other through now. All kinds of turns unexpected; sometimes the road has gotten pretty pock marked and the wheels under us needed new shocks. But we’ve made it this far. I got back in the car after our visit and turned on the radio already tuned to Guy Raz, Ted Radio Hour on NPR. He was interviewing someone on the effects of shifting time. “You reach a certain point in life,” said the radio lady , “where you don’t meet new old friends because there just isn’t enough time to make them that.” I smile to myself and my heart agrees. I’ve just been with an old friend and I whisper a thank you to my heavenly Father for the gift of enough days piled up like rich soil to see the strong roots.
“As we get older, it turns out through a study done, we get measurably happier,” she continued, her voice obviously counted as one “older”. She talked about speaking on the topic at a conference . Age puts a certain spin on things that makes the golden light glint off of life more keenly, the edges of things more outlined, focused. The “tear in the eye moments” when a new good beginning requires the ending of something before it…. the new job that takes away the financial pressure and a look back over the shoulder as you step through the door of your future suddenly makes the lean days take on a special nostalgia? The thing is, as birthdays add up, the tear makes the ripness of the life fruit sweeter than the harsh bitterness of the fear and effect of the bruises. You can just let go easier. You decide to be here because you realize the “theres” will rob you if you let them. “Here” is where life is happening.
I just this week drove the seven hours there and back to visit my daughter and her little family. My muscles draw up tighter than they used to when the car holds me hostage for long hours and I have to walk slowly at first when I get out until my legs find their function again. I look up and see my girl holding her girl waiting for me on their porch. My granddaughter has reached the age where she knows who I am and what I am; her Nana. I see her eyes light up with recognition. Were my legs stiff? I couldn’t remember anymore. It didn’t matter.
The days spent with my girl, her man and little girl zoomed by slowly; actual days on the calendar were faster than the moments I savored; my age affords me to move slower in my mind than the clock hands on the wall. Leaving was hard. It was the first time Little Bea registered that Nana had to leave. Her whimper at the news threatened to take me down. As I drove away, waving one last time at the faces in the window, I swallowed hard.
I didn’t want to leave. It was the end of the sweet snuggles in person for awhile. There was a tear in the corner of my eye as I looked away towards the road. But, as I drove down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the miles between us mounting up, I warmed myself at what I took with me. My 59 years had wrapped up the simple times like little presents to put under my remembering tree. I can taste the seasoned squash slathered over my girls’ homemade sourdough bread and the treasure of shared food, all of us together, around their table. I can hear the murmur of the voices between her and her man in the front seat as I sit in the back with Bea, comforted at the love being nurtured between them. I can smell the heavenly scent of a just bathed toddler as she waddles from room to room, her naked little self wrapped up in a towel dragging behind her. I can savor the memory of the setting sun over a corn field enjoying an evening drive to get ice cream. I can sit on their back porch and listen to the crickets while I watched the day end drinking my iced tea and whispering a thank you to the God that loves them; that He is watching over this little family.
I can let go of mistakes I made raising this girl of mine and know that all is well in spite of it; that we can forgive and love and seize the moment by the hand and walk on. I realize I’ve stopped listening to the podcast on the radio until the last sentence. The radio lady had finished her talk and a young man approached her afterwards. “Is there anyway to get older quicker so I can be in that place you spoke about now ??” I laughed out loud and nodded my head. This getting older thing? It’s no so bad after all, even with stiffer muscles. I love the brighter outlines that light up the moments.
There’s no time to do anything but slow down.