Archive for the ‘Looking forward’ Category

Boise, IdahoI have been so inspired by the wonderful life stories that so many women are sharing.  This is truly a wonderful time to be a “New Senior Woman.”  I have never believed that I was a religious person, but I do believe that I am a spiritual person. I also believe that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” As a group the “New Senior Woman” has been given so much, and we are certainly following up on the “much is expected” by what we are accomplishing, not only for ourselves but for following generations of women.

Today I would like to share a story about my friend, Jean.  Jean was born in a small Midwestern town. She married right out of high school as so many of us from those areas did. When her children were in elementary school, she decided to go to college and teach in order to pay for their college education.  She was one of the first people to get a masters degree in computers and education.

She retired from teaching and spent 10 years after that with her second husband. When he passed away from cancer, Jean started looking for another career.  She found that career teaching conversational English to college professors in China. She has also taught in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Ecquador.

Two years ago I was vacationing in the Midwest and spent time with her. She was then celebrating her 73rd birthday. She was also in the process of selling her home in order to move to Boise, Idaho.  She was full of ideas relating to what she would do there. When I asked her why she was moving, her reply was, “I don’t want to get stale.”

In my mind that personifies the image of “The New Senior Woman.”

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SlowI recently lost my husband of 59 years. The void is so great…In futility, I’ve been reaching out into space…. I have tried to put my loss in the background and to involve myself in the reality of interests such as…. organizations with causes, movie review and book discussion groups. I thought I needed to be in a group milieu…to provide a discipline that would allow me to focus. I have found that I plunged into the interests without giving myself time to heal…… I have realized that I need to allow the grief to be expressed and to be felt….I realize I will not be bored… There is no time constriction. I need to slow down and not to “run around my tail.” My interests are there to be tapped in time… There’s no hurry… ……

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CubaMy husband and I had traveled to many different parts of the world and I just loved being immersed in different cultures.  For the past few years, knowing that I would not be able to travel the way I used to, I said that before I die, I must experience Barcelona and then finally, visit Cuba once more, but this time with my family.

I have been putting off Barcelona due to various health and personal issues and am beginning to feel like the plan is slipping away.  Some of you know my motto “While I can, I will.  When I can’t, I won’t, but I’ll be glad that I did when I could.”  Well, it’s just beginning to feel that I can’t but while I still feel that I can, I am going to seize that feeling and plan to go there toward the end of this year.

Feeling old does has a way of creeping in….and that’s not always a bad thing.  It’s good to know one’s limitations. So I am going to do this year what I think I may not be able to do next year – Barcelona, here I come!

Cuba will be the trip I will do when I turn 80 in 2015.  I want to visit the country of my birth one more time and share that experience with my family – so I better start saving for that now.

I am fortunate that I enjoy doing many crafts and love when my creative juices get going and I discover a new way of doing whatever – whether it’s painting a piece of furniture, knit beading a new bracelet, creating a new soup recipe or even discovering a new computer/ iPhone ability.

We are living in an age of constant change and keeping up with it can be daunting but it can also be exhilarating!

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Merry-Go-RoundMerry-go-round in a carnival that is deserted.

Cobwebbed stage set in a boarded up studio.

I walk around in the drama that was Lynne and Joe, playing the part, going through the motions, but Joe is gone. No one else exists, and I continue to do by rote, the chores and motions of existence although there is nothing to prove or underscore the suggestion that I am still alive. I move wraithlike through the empty space, attempting to reaffirm my existence, lost in the faint tinkle of carousel music, cutting through invisible formless tasteless space, seeking a small semblance of reality, drowning in the emptiness.


I startled myself this morning, just a slight jolt, when I stood on the rear porch waiting for the dog to return from his morning jaunt and I noticed the joyful juxtaposition of colors in my winter landscape, the reddened euonymus leaves curling around that old stump that used to be Friedle’s driftwood and junk sculpture that sits now in front of the fish pond, branches and leaves bravely standing straight up in the morning cool contrasting with the yellowed bamboo grass, the deep leathery green rhodie leaves now reopened after the frigid days into their broad dramatic bravado, the deeper red of the small leafed rhodies, pgms. I think, my white birch clump standing out right in front of them…fallen leaf and yellow pine needles covering the rocky bed of the stream that leads to the pond. It all stood out there for a moment, the first in a long time that I have been able to see such things clearly. I watched the black winter covered pool, surrounded by rich brown empty flower beds, noted the brave fearless new leaves of the butterfly bush always so irresponsible in winter and almost laughed; I am suddenly seeing again.

I recall laying on my back, floating in the pool  last summer as Joe watched from the shade of the patio, unwilling to attempt a swim any more, and how I murmured something about wondering if this would be my last summer on this earth, oblivious to the reality that waved its hands in warning in front of me; would I ever get to see those immense pines rising all around me in our woods, see the roses and trumpet vines and hibiscus in their rampant glory, note the wild profusion of dahlia and caladium and hydrangea, feel the warmth of the soothing water as it burbled around my body, felt the hot sun and soft breeze. Would this be the last time? Joe just smiled at me, sitting in his chair, holding his flannel shirt tightly around his body, slipping his feet in and out of his moccasins… I never even thought…

On the front porch, I can see my camellia, a young lady fifteen feet high, only recently an infant of two and a half feet, full of fat nearly bursting buds, waiting to bloom. I want to tell her that it is way too soon, that spring is a long way off, but I smile to myself, she knows that although I have just recently learned this fact.  She will burst open, display her scarlet flowers when the time is right, even as she appears to be in too big a hurry. So also, the irises and day lilies that seem to be ahead of their time. There is so much more winter yet to come.

Yesterday, when I ran out to do some errands, I was also startled to notice the mauvey gray pink juxtaposition of patterns of the trees as I drove by, previously a favorite sight for me, winter trees, winter landscape, and a source of joy in other days. And I wondered that I could feel again…

Impatient. With myself, with Lacy my elderly Bichon, as I was impatient with Joe in those last months. Really, I am most impatient with myself as I feel myself failing, slowing down.   Is it the fear of the unknown? Is it the worry and terror of future loss that triggers that impatience? Oh Joe, I want to tell him, I never meant to say those edgy things when exasperated, I was so afraid of losing you and now have indeed.

Something is happening in me. It is not that I am no longer mourning, that is something that will never end. It is something else. It is a slowly returning strength, a kernel of life, a flickering spark deep inside that is struggling to become a flame, a tiny flame, seeking oxygen. I am beginning to feel my body again, feel my mind moving, becoming ready to move again. At first, when these thoughts came to me and I heard that familiar voice inside telling me to get up out of bed and write it all down because in the morning the thoughts would be long gone and forgotten, I struggled with myself, sank deeper into the quilts and pillows, wanted oblivion so badly. But I did it, forced myself to rise and boot up. Then the computer would not begin its ritual because it was busy upgrading itself in this middle of the night and I had to wait for it to complete its process. Oh God, no, I thought, I will never remember all this stuff that I have written in my mind while half asleep, it will be gone, what are the odds? How has this happened? What miserable timing I have, as usual.

But I did it, and there it is all booted up, and there is Joe’s smiling face on my screen saver as usual, but for some reason I do not feel sad, I feel happy to see him. And I open Word and begin to type and I am back…good grief, I am back. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to get into the studio and begin some artwork. Maybe I can be alive again. Joe smiles…

— By Lynne Heffner Ferrante (http://www.lynneheffnerferrante.com/)

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