Is That All There Is?

July 30, 2021

Dear me, 

This letter is to the future you, written as a response to a prompt from a wonderful group of writers called The Lightning and the Lightning Bug.  In May of 2011, this site was in its growing stages and today, it has become one of the top websites for creative writers on the Internet.  I’m so privileged to be a part of it, still.

Your book, Another cookie, please!, is finally a published work and that dream of leaving it behind for your family has become a reality.  Well, it sure took you long enough!  In past years, your dear friend,  No. 7,  managed to produce three published works, along with another, waiting in the wings, since earning her MFA in Creative Writing, not that I’m trying to criticize you for dragging your heels for so long.

Well, in a way, I am…

Time, that’s your main focus these days, more than ever.  Life is winding down but you need to stop allowing it to consume you, fearing that dementia will creep in and destroy the person you are.  Stop!  You aren’t your mother, just go right over to that big mirror and look at you…in your seventies and your Grand-kids still think that you are one cool Gramma.  Rejoice in that, will you!  Make use of the years that lie ahead, don’t close your mind to new experiences or deprive your family of valued memories that are waiting to happen.

Ten years ago, you didn’t think there would be much of a future as our nation shuddered under the threat of a significant debt crisis.  The dreams you and John shared about vacations and a second home were slowly disappearing as you struggled to maintain a business…and a life.  For a long time, it seemed as if there would be nothing to look forward to as you merely existed, from day to day.

It hasn’t been easy and now you’re  busy packing up years of belongings as you prepare a bittersweet move to what’s often called “God’s Waiting Room”…. Florida.  Not a place you are particularly fond of with its only redeeming quality being the fact that your oldest daughter and family live there.  You will be leaving loved ones behind, four seasons which you cherish and heading for a state with almost constant sunshine, roads dotted with cars driven by headless drivers along with turn signals that blink constantly as they head for some restaurant buffet line, armed with Ziploc bags.  Just think…you will be able to make up for so much missed time with your Florida Grandsons and do all the special things that both boys love about you, even now that they’re older. 

Let’s face it, you never really cared for Putnam County and the town where you built this first home.  In all these years, the same, twisted politics still dominate the quality of life here and the educational system hasn’t progressed much past what it was back in the late eighties.  In thirty-five years, you’ve made acquaintances but very few friends that you deem close.  Patty, you have always been a loner, of sorts; happiest when some type of creation is dancing through your head on its way to your fingertips.

The house is sold and you spend time walking the property, stopping by the little plot of land where your beloved pets rest in their eternal sleep.  You stand on the little bridge down by the brook which is gently roaring due to all the rain lately.   In the backyard, those towering Willow trees bend gracefully in the breeze and John complains that, someday, they’re going to land on the house; he’s been saying that for the past thirty years.  You don’t care, after all, that will be the new owners problem.   Secretly, you hope they have better luck with gardens, flowers and the deer who eat everything that doesn’t eat them first!

As you read this, your mind keeps jumping to those damned thoughts of time, especially..quality time.  The clock on the wall, at times, seems to never move but the pages on the calendar in your office move all too quickly.   Thoughts of how many more years of being needed and functional before really old age strikes with a vengenance and renders you immobile, or unwanted?   Honey, if we all had those answers, we would have the ability to plan the back nine of our lives so much better.  Sad truth is, there are no guarantees.   Life just happens and some things, you can do little to change.  Just make good use of all that is in front of you; keep your mind sharp and that body in motion.     

Don’t give up on that dream about visiting Positano, there’s still plenty of time to hop a flight and head for the Amalfi Coast; make the trip with Emma and Jake when they graduate from college.  Plan some memorable excursions with teen-agers Matt and Jaden; teach them how to drive standard-shift as only you can do.

Let go of your many regrets and find some elusive inner peace with all the positive things that surround you.

Be patient with John.  Work has consumed his entire life, leaving little room for anything else.  The two of you are growing older, together; it hasn’t always been easy but not many couples can boast being married for almost fifty-one years.

Cook, paint and, most importantly, Write!  Keep doing all the things that bring your family pleasure and give you so much personal satisfaction.

Keep in mind that the best still is yet to come and….play this song….

I’ll get back to you… five years from now.

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So many marbles. How much time?

Marbles.  You can be accused of losing them or still have them locked away in a velvet pouch, guarding each brilliant glass sphere from the ravages of time.

Alzheimer’s disease crept in years ago and brutally made off like a thief in the night with my late mother’s collection.  Since her death, my own fear of ending up almost mindless, a stranger in my family’s midst, pushes me constantly to exercise my brain, holding onto those marbles that make up who I am.

Then, there is that time issue; one which people often write about.  One heartwarming story, 1,000 Marbles, was written by Jeffrey Davis years ago, about a ham radio conversation he listened to, well, it touched me deeply.  I share part of it with you…

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.  I was intrigued as I listened to what he had to say….

  
You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”
 
“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.”
 
 ” It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”
 

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.” 

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.” 

 

      

Since reading this, I’ve stocked-up on marbles as well as a variety of jars in which to keep them.  Call it my personal investment in time, call it crazy, call it what you will.  With each passing week, I remove just one colorful ball of my past and comfort myself with those that remain. 

And I hope…for time.

 

 

 

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 From Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop...Write a blog post that ends with the word: time.  

I wrote this several years ago, eight to be exact, and time remains on the forefront of every single moment of my existence.  Probably the same for most of us, I imagine.  Each day begins with a plan, a goal, and what seems like an endless “to do” list, while a clock looks over my shoulder.

 
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