My mother sat like a queen on an upholstered rocking chair. Taking turns, my young adult daughters leaned over to greet Grammie with hugs and kisses. June sunshine gently peeked into the room through open living room windows. Outside, someone was mowing the lawn. We could hear the soothing hum of a distant lawn mower and smell freshly cut grass. The rose in a vase on the table next to Grammie’s chair scented the room as a soft, warm breeze fluttered its leaves.
My mother’s gray eyes sparkled. She perfectly fit the textbook picture of a grandmother. Her stylishly waved white hair framed a face with soft pink cheeks and smiling lips tinted to match her easy wash-and-wear, coral-colored polyester pantsuit. She peered intently up at her visiting grandchildren, striving to get a good look at them despite her macular degeneration.
“Happy birthday, Grandma,” my daughters chorused.
Mom smiled, pleased to have them visit. She loved the attention her birthday was garnering. She said, “I’m 95 years old today. I can’t believe that many years have gone by since my birth!”
My younger daughter, 19 years old, sat down and said, “You’ve seen so many changes since you were born in 1906!”
Mom nodded and said, “That’s right. When I was born no one around here had electricity. We used kerosene lamps to see at night. If we wanted to go anywhere nearby, we hitched horses to a wagon or sleigh. To go further, we’d walk to town and get on the train.”
My 23-year-old daughter joined the conversation by marveling, “Now, not only does everyone has electricity, but they all have radios and televisions.”
Thinking of the many changes and modernizations I’ve seen in my life, I pointed out, “Many of the changes have happened in just the last 50 years. When I started school, I had several classmates that didn’t have indoor bathrooms. I remember we had our first telephone installed when I was 5 or 6 years-old. Now jet planes take us quickly to the other side of the world and rockets take people to the moon. Just thirty years ago the average person didn’t know what a computer was. Now, almost everyone has at least one computer and many of them are connected by something called internet.”
My Mom said, “Funny thing, despite being 95 years old, I still feel like a young person inside!”
Sixteen years have passed since we celebrated my mother’s 95th birthday. I thought of her today while I cleaned my kitchen and looked out the window at my back yard. Some strange flowers Mom had long ago introduced me to were once again blooming. The plants in my flowerbed are called, ‘mystery lilies’. Each spring they send up a thick thatch of green spears, but no flowers. By July their leaves have withered away and disappeared without even a trace to show where the plant is in the flowerbed. Then suddenly, during the month of August, the plant’s hidden bulbs send up numerous tall stalks, each topped with pale pink lily blossoms.
My eyes eagerly scanned the rest of the yard for other signs of summer’s progress. The lone fruit on my young apple tree was getting large. Tall tansy, topped with yellow blossoms lined the lower driveway. A few sumac leaves had turned the color of a male cardinal’s feathers, signaling that summer was coming to an end.
Some people dread fall and winter, but I look forward to the colored leaves and the stark frozen landscape. I’ll admit to getting impatient waiting for Spring, but there is nothing like seeing a fresh, new green sprout pushing up through winter-freshened black soil! No matter how many times I’ve seen it happen, it never gets old!
I love living in a four-season land. The changes are exciting and beautiful. Perhaps my attitude and excitement keeps me young, because although I’m not as old as my mother was when she said it, I too feel much younger inside despite my senior years.
Loved the analogy of time you wrote about. Thanks for reminder of time & our shorter days ahead. Wonderful writing, Kathy. Thanks again.
Thank-you. Memories are wonderful things. Loved ones who have passed away are never really gone. They remain with us through the things we remember about them. One thing that never changes over time is Wisconsin’s short, cold winter days!