Today I went back to place I lived in Philadelphia. I haven’t seen since the day I ran away in 1968. That’s 50 years ago. It was an institution in Philadelphia called Stenton Child Center. My younger sister and I were supposed to feel fortunate that we were in such a nice place. Most of the places the state provided for abandon children were pretty run down. There is no place on earth that could be better than being with your own family no matter how difficult things are at home.
I didn’t know how I would react when I actually saw it. As we began to approach I felt only a moment panic, that quickly turned to curiosity. I couldn’t believe how much it looked the same after all these years. The memories so fresh in my mind and stories yet to tell. I couldn’t go inside because it’s now a shelter for homeless families, but I was okay with that because I felt like the monster it represented in my mind for so many years no longer had a hold on me.
On my way home I wondered about how this applies to what I wrote about yesterday in relation to place of shifting I find myself. Of all the different places I’ve been, this was by far the worst ground I’d ever worked in my life. But it’s also yielded the most growth in my life. It was a time of planting, growing, and nurturing. It was full of many cultivating opportunities that could have yielded many weeds, but instead continues to teach and bear much fruit.
I am not only in the winter of the season, but nature teaches another lesson in my life, that I am in the winter of my shifting cultivation. A time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, let go and chill out on a icebergs going with the rivers flow.
Everyone has an opinion of what being in the later years of our life should be. That’s perfectly okay and normal because we each see and experience things from our own perspective. What goes into our perspective is a whirlwind of emotional, physical, psychological, social and spiritual experiences, and let’s not forget the learned behavior we’ve brought with us. The bottom-line is that we don’t know any more about this last stage of life then we did the other stages we went through. However, after many past stages of life I’ve learned that by embracing each one along the way I’ve been able to experience life from a different more deeper perspective than the one before. As I attempt to embrace the senior years of my life, I find myself looking back a lot. Not so much in a longing of wanting to go back, but more of how far I’ve come. These are the years that give birth to all the wisdom I now hold within, and as I discover this, there is a sense of satisfaction in how far I’ve come, what I’ve learned, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. As long as I have a clear enough mind I’ll always feel like I can do most things. It is in the trying that I learn my limitations. It is true that growing older is not for wimps. A lot of time and energy is used to get ourselves moving and being a part of life. I’m learning to embrace the limitations as they present themselves, and I work hard at not giving into the gravity that pulls me back into the sitting position where my body would be perfectly happy to park itself.
So, if I talk about being older at times, it’s because I am. If I talk about running out of time, don’t chastise me. Just bring me back to where I am right now. If you think I’m obsessing over it, don’t tell me how to think, but help me to embrace it. And if I can’t hear or understand you, don’t brush me off and say never mind. Give me a chance to hear what you have to say.
In closing I share my opinion of the later years of my life. I am a senior and that’s okay. I am getting older, but I’m not old in the sense of giving up. I’m not afraid to be where I am or say where I’m at in this stage of my life. I’m a senior and that’s okay with me.
“When a knowledgable old person dies, a whole library disappears.” –An old African proverb
I read an article today from my local newspaper titled, “Older people have knowledge to share—if we just listen” by Bob Rudy. It caught my attention for several reasons, one being that I spent time as a hospice volunteer a few years ago listening to the fascinating stories of people’s lives. Not only was it interesting to me, but the way their faces lit up as they told their stories turned out to be a gift for both of us.
I’ve also been working on my families genealogy for over 20 years now. I was fortunate to start it at a time when my parents were still alive, and as I dove into it I found myself wanting to know more about what their life was like growing up. They’ve both been gone a long time now and still I have question I wish I would have asked. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have never taken the time I did though to get to know them. It is true as the quote states as each family member passes away, a whole library disappears.
The other reason this subject is close to my heart is because I am a story teller myself, and as the younger generations calls us, I’m an older person myself. I like the phrase that getting older is not for wimps, because it is a time in a humans life when we have to work really hard to hang onto what we have. Sometimes it even feels like your slowly disappearing, fading into space as we lose our hearing, sight, coordination and many other facilities that make you feel like a child again. But ask us to tell you one of our stories and we become energized. Our eyes will light up, and just maybe we’ll feel like our lives matters once again, and you’ll hear a real live story like the ones you read in a book you borrow from the library.
It can be any time or place…
When suddenly they start…
Those memories of yesterday
That so delight the heart…
They’re brought about by many things…
A treasured photograph,
A song’s familiar melody,
A child’s delightful laugh…
They bring a gladness to the heart,
A warmness to the soul…
They take an ordinary day
And somehow make it whole…
Those precious, priceless memories
That time cannot destroy…
They come and go and leave
A gentle, sentimental joy.
This is just what I needed today!
From grief and healing in the afterloss
We never know everything there is to know about anything. There’s always a deeper level yet to be discovered and learned. I often get challenged not too long after I’ve mastered something in my life. My first indication is when I notice the things I know to be right and true are not working like they usually do. I start getting frustrated. Than I get down on myself, and start to doubt everything I know. My confusion causes me to over-react and then I really get down on myself. At this point I’m feeling lost. All that’s left to do is sit down and be in the quiet where I can really think things through. What is this situation really trying to teach me? With time, practice, contemplation and patience the answer comes, but only when we’re ready to see it for what it is.
As Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
Today’s question ask me to share a memory about what I did to stay cool during a heatwave in my childhood.
Now just imagine on this very day, the hottest of the summer yet, not having the comfort of air conditioning to escape the discomfort. There was no excuse for staying inside because it was hotter there than outside under a tree or any shade you could find. If we didn’t have a stream or pool to cool off in we ran through the sprinkler, squatter each other with squirt guns, filled water balloons and tried to make as much fun as we could cooling off. Sitting inside the house in front of a fan was too boring and didn’t help much anyway. I knew when the night came I’d be laying in front of one tossing and turning. Going from the head of the bed to the foot of it, trying to find the coolest spot to lay. Hair damp at the nap of my neck as well as the rest of my body. It was the fan blowing on my damp skin that eventually gave me the relief I needed to fall asleep.
Thinking back I realize that even with the lack of comfort back then we used our imaginations to find ways to make a bad situation the best it could be. My advice with the wisdom I’ve gained through my many decades of life is not to let the many comforts you now have keep you from finding ways to use your own wonderful imagination.
Were you ever biting by a dog?
Yes! But not as a child it was about 20 years ago when Pop and I were going for our daily walk.
There was a Doberman Pincher at the corner house of Marietta and President Ave out with his owner in the yard running loose. When it saw us it came running toward us. I thought he’s just being protective of his property and kept walking. He came up behind me and bite my butt so hard it broke through my clothes and skin.
I always loved dogs, and thought they knew the people who loved them. I’ll never take that for granted again. It took me a while to feel safe again when out walking. I prefer to carry a walking stick now if I’m by myself. Dogs are like people, there are some nice tempered ones, and mean tempered ones. You never know what your gonna get, but you can’t let it keep you from doing the things you enjoy in life. Like a box of chocolates you never know what your gonna get unless you take a bite and see what’s inside.