Thursday, November 01, 2007
Elder Revelation or HawHeyWhoYah!
I'm a fan of Padraic Colum and have always admired his poem "The Old Woman of the Roads.
I was forced to learn it in school but over the years, it comes back to me and I get this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Maybe the Sisters of Mercy knew what they were doing, making us memorize all those poems!
Picture is that famous old optical illusion of the young woman/old woman.
I've come to this conclusion:
This suits me: The age I am, the distance I am from everything that used to be important. In this place I now call home, I’ve always felt as if I received a second chance to live. I play house here. I only put up my own artwork, or cards from friends, or photos I like, or my mother’s embroidery. Even the odd poem gets a wall to itself. I use mismatched china and mismatched chairs. And boil a ratty old kettle on the woodstove for my tea. I invite people I like in to my house to share meals with me. And show them some chairs from 1860 that someone found and gave to me, as there were only three of them. Who’d want three? Well, me. I’m so far away that no one can check up on me.
I find I don’t really truly miss the familiar as much as I’d thought. I’d lived on the same street as my daughter and granddaughter forever it seemed. I co-parented my granddaughter to all intents and purposes and saw her every day and she did her homework in my Toronto office. I even went to her PTA meetings when her parents were working and did the parent teacher thing all over again. I thought one day, I might be doing this for my great-granddaughter, who knows. Does it ever stop? You’d think I’d miss the grandgirl. People tell me I must miss her dreadfully, all the daily doings. Well, yes. And no.
It seemed like every time the phone rang in my old life, someone needed something from me. Nearly always. I got tired of that. Call me selfish. I won’t justify myself. My grandy-friends, left behind, complain about all the demands on their time. They’re the sandwich generation, taking care of their senile parents and their rambunctious grandchildren, sometimes all in the same day. They’re fed up. No time for themselves at all. Lucky, lucky you, they say to me. You got out.
Self-preservation has always been my strongest suit. I make no apologies for that. Enough sacrifice, I say. Did I mention I called off two engagements, negated them, because in each case a daughter took a dislike to the situation and threatened to leave home? That’s how enmeshed I was. How much I didn’t know myself. I thought taking care of myself meant keeping my daughters happy no matter what the cost to me.
Now I’ve disentangled myself. I’m left to my own thoughts, my own books, my own writing, my truly, truly own space. Yes, it would be nice to share it with someone, a soul-mate of my own choosing. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. Meanwhile, I think I’ve gotten to know me and like me and honour me for the first time in my life. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s alright actually. And we all deserve a bit of the alright.