From my senior citizen perspective looking back through the haze of decades, I am suddenly wondering what was real and what has been romanticized. Stories over years of telling take on a life of their own. For example, Camp Kowaunkami. Though I say I loved camp - I am now remembering a piteous week of punishment and humiliation when the counselors forced me to sit on the beach and "watch but not participate" because as a clumsy camper I had steered my rowboat into a canoe full of counselors (mature women of 17 and 18)) who screamed insults at me once they came up, recovered from the dunk and got the canoe righted. Looking back, hazy or not, they were cruel. Still I say I loved camp. I think I did. I guess I wasn't scarred for life - I went back the next year without incident (that I can remember!) and lived all these years thinking I loved camp.
Walking to work in spring rain is pure joy! I love stepping out, pulling up my hood, opening my umbrella and inhaling the sweetness of the neighborhood gardens. Raindrops on my umbrella chant a delicate meditation carrying me back to my childhood GS camping experiences when I loved the rain on the tent while drifting off to sleep. Picture this old lady yesterday blissfully dancing in the rain singing "K-O-W-A-U-N-K-A-M-I - we're girl scouts at Kowaunkami!" - thumbing her nose at the years and years of driving white knuckled down greasy rainy freeways.
My sister gets the cool award in the department of MOM. When her kids were little she let them choose the new color for the shutters on their stately home. The boys argued and couldn't agree on the color. Wise as the ancient Solomon, sis bought the paint and the grumbly painter grimly followed her directions and grumbled and grunted, sputtered and spat. For the next decade the neighbors to the south enjoyed the red shutters - while the neighbors to the north had their own view: blue shutters. Every kid need needs a mom like my sister.
J. is leaving Seattle to return to the Northeast. The Northeast of cold blustery winters, hot sticky mosquitos and grandchildren. At sixty-seven and after fifteen years of loving everything Northwest she has chosen to head east to spend her remaining years getting to know the grandchildren she has only seen three or four times a year since they were born. She chose a vibrant college town - two hours in different directions from each of her three kids and six grandchildren. Her kids lead busy lives. She doesn't want to be on top of them - just in the same time zone.
Life Choices. J is leaving her life partner whose Northwest business is thriving, who can't justify leaving this timezone to be near J's children and grandchildren who leads a busy life and likes this timezone just fine. They say it will be a long distance relationship.
A quick trip from Seattle to DC to spend Mother's Day with my siblings and my mom. Since she fell in October, mom has been wheelchair bound and less able to fully track some conversations. She is still bright and alert and sooo gracious. At ninety she is tiny and frail and needs the assistance of a caregiver eighteen hours a day. We three - her "kids" 2/3 of us gray, 1/3 of us about to retire ourselves, 3/3 of us confronting the reality of aging - took her on a memory tour which included a drive by Hickory Hill, the Bobby Kennedy compound, and then all of the DC sights by car - with the addition of Hillary's DC digs - ending our tour at the hotel that used to be the Sheraton Park. This still beautiful and luxurious hotel is a treasured family memory - It was 1962. My young father had died after a long illness. My mom even in her own grief understood that her three kids needed something fresh in our minds - something wonderful and happy. We traveled to DC and spent a week together at the Sheraton Park - our twelve year old cousin Steve came along too because he was always funny and she said he would make us laugh. He did. Yesterday on our Mother's Day tour we called Cousin Steve (in Alaska) from the SP to remember together. It was day to say a very special thank you to our Mom.
Yesterday I took the day off to pretend I was retired.
I went swimming: Daytime Adult and Senior Swim
The pool was divided into three sections: 1) Arthritis Underwater (catchy, right?) 2) Lap Swim (Three separate lanes: Plodders, Splashers, and Killers (my labels, not theirs) 3) Adult free swim. I chose adult free swim.
My companions in this area were: 1) a very nice looking younger man who held on the side of the pool for a full sixty minutes 2) A very large lady who used a snorkel and swam up and down the pool for an hour without ever once taking her face out of the water, 3) A very slim and annoyed athletic woman who should have been over with the splashers and killers 4) A lovely grandma who reminded me of SophiaGoldenGirl (without the purse!) - who told me she used to be in the Arthritis class but had graduated to Adult Swim. Maybe one day I will graduate to plodder or splasher - I promise I will never join the killers - If you are a lap swimmer, you know what I'm talking about. The best part of my pretend retired day was in the locker room/showers with the Arthritis Ladies. Lots of talking and laughing about dropped this and that, aches and pains and IRA's, Social Security and Medicare. I joined right in. Not one person guessed I was just pretending!
As soon as I announced my retirement my email lit up. "Ah," thought I, "they want to say something nice, thank me, wish me well.." And of course they did - lovely lavish thoughts, thanks and good wishes. And then they asked for letters of reference -just in case we lose touch. Though the list of letters to be written is daunting, I will take great pleasure in thinking over my years of association with each member of my staff, as I outline their strengths and contributions for a future employer. Not sure I will ever capture on paper the times we stayed late to finish a project, laughed ourselves silly when something fell apart or discovered together a great AH HA that took us all forward. There's no room in a letter of reference for the life events we've seen each other through, the highs and lows of spending our workdays together these may years. Writing a sincere letter of reference for each of these folks gives me one more chance to remember that I have worked with fabulous people. Just in case we lose touch.