I've been a mom for over 39 years. That does not even seem possible. And I've been a grandmother for almost 17 years. The image those numbers would have conjured up in my mind when I was in my twenties was probably one that resembled the stereotypical grandmothers that were familiar to me at that time. Of course, I could never imagine myself as a one of those grandmothers--you know the ones--with short grey hair and dentures, wearing a kitchen apron and practical shoes, adhering to strict housekeeping schedules and mealtimes. In my twenties, I laughed at the notion of the years flying by quickly, and I refused to entertain the thought that one day I would be "old."
And yet, here I am. Life has somehow managed to drop me on the brink of turning 60.
When I look around, mostly while in church or at "the Walmart," I try to pick out others who have landed where I have. Sometimes I observe that stereotypical is still alive and well in the hair and practical shoe departments. And sometimes I observe those teetering on the edge, trying to redefine what is acceptable for a grandmother of today. Who would have guessed that tattoos and piercings would have made the cut?
I look back at both of my grandmothers' lives and wonder how they could have settled for what they did. I wonder how they were able to harness their hopes and dreams and live out their older years with such acceptance and peace. It's not a criticism. I just wonder. Maybe they were not haunted like I am with a spirit of adventure and a hunger for more.
As a wife and mother, I've dedicated most of my life to serving others, making sure their hopes and dreams were watered well--confident that one day it would be "my" turn. I have no regrets; the years were full. But now, when the time has finally arrived for the desires of my heart and the longings of my soul--my hopes and dreams--to be watered, I'm quite a bit older than I thought I would be.
I so want to believe that age does not matter when it comes to accomplishing big things--because I still have big things I want to accomplish. And I don't want my age to define the borders around the possibilities.
The reality is, however, that even though I may have done a good job of resisting the look of the stereotypical grandmother by keeping my hair long and highlighted and wearing cute shoes, neither have kept the candles from multiplying on my cake or the arthritis from inching its way into my body. And my mind is not as sharp as it used to be either.
No matter. I still have dreams.
Last year I took a three-week trip out West with my daughter, Tessa. We only managed to get lost twice; and if I'm not mistaken, Tessa--the one with the young, sharp mind--was handling the map.
Taking a trip out West has always been a dream of mine.
In November I had my first book published. I actually wrote it and figured out formatting with this old mind and body.
Writing a book has always been a dream of mine.
I am working on a second book. And after that I will probably work on a third.
Going to keep dreaming.
I want to travel Europe and . . .
Going to keep dreaming.
And when I get discouraged, I will look to women like Grandma Moses, who started her art career at 78, and Grandma Gatewood, who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67, for inspiration. Their legacies encourage me to try new things, to take risks.
The key is to not fear or worry about the outcome. Nobody--not even the young--knows when they start a project or take a first step what the result will be. Everybody knows what the result will be if the project is never started or the step never taken.
I don't want to be a know-it-all. I want to be the grandmother that starts projects and takes steps--no matter the outcome--no matter the challenges.
I want to be the grandmother that leaves stories for her grandchildren to tell. And I want the stories to start with, "You won't believe what my grandmother did."
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