Adding meaning to your life as age changes our bodies and minds
|The Midlife Awakening
Golden rays of sun peek through blinds in the French doors. Chris sleeps with his tan back turned towards me. I long to kiss his defined muscular shoulders, hoping he will awaken. We could discover pleasure in each other once again.
He moves and kisses my mouth gently, "Morning, babe."
Then he heads for a shower. I remember when he used to shut off the alarm. We'd make love in perfect harmony. Those days are gone.
Chris has a perfect body for fifty, and I hate him. No, I love him. I am not sure, maybe both. I notice his looks of hunger at young women sunbathing on boats; those with string bikinis.
What I need is a reconstruction contractor. I need sixty pounds removed, new support walls, trimming and restructuring. I will be fifty this month and long for a new me.
Where do you go when you have invested years into a marriage that isn't what it used to be? You stay and are grateful. Of course, no marriage is perfect. If it was all good, you wouldn't appreciate the wonderful or pull through the pain. Like having a baby, if you remembered the labor pains, you wouldn't have another.
I would never want to start all over again. Chris is a good man. He doesn't cheat or abuse me. He never forgets birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas is the best jewelry. He surprises me often with coral (my favorite color) roses.
I look around our house, study the family photos as the kids grew into men. Mementos from trips are arranged on shelves, bringing back memories of special times. A lovely marbled rock that I admired when Paul was ten; he fractured his ankle getting it. That was the same trip that Donnie jumped out of the car when we saw a black bear in the Smokies. The bear reached out and clawed his tiny five year old arm. I was frantic and that scar is his prize possession. There is the plastic ballerina music box Ken surprised me with when he was five. Bobby, toddling around at two, had grabbed and broken it. Chris had super glued and "make it well' as Bobby said. It was awarded a place on the fireplace mantle. .
My life has been filled with getting Chris through law school, having babies, baking, cleaning, and carpooling. Then there was Boy Scouts, school volunteer work, various sports and being team Mom.
I rode the carousel of time and it went by like a speedway. I knew it was going fast and I tried to capture and appreciate it. There were times I wanted "to slow down but I had a full calendar". Time goes by the same anyway, it just feels like it is flying when you are busy.
Now I look back at those years and I would say to any young person, "Savor it all, the sore nipples, the clothes that smell like spit up, that little voice, saying over and over "come see, Mama". Make the time to go and see what your kids are interested in. Remember to make popcorn chains, dye Easter eggs, and push the swing for the hundredth time. I know it feels like you are doing it for them but you are doing it for you.
Like a blink of an eye, it is gone. Leave the dirty dishes, flash your husband and race him to bed. I look in the mirror, my eyes are still twenty-five, but who is that older woman? Her body has traveled south of the border.
I am retired from nursing due to a medical problem. But I am not dying. I am bitter sometimes and feel sorry for myself. I need a new look at my life. It hasn't stopped, just changed. Perhaps a richness and new texture need to be discovered or looked at in a new light. Life doesn't stop until your heart and breath does. Until then, each new wrinkle, your body and mind losing its abilities, is still a new experience.
Chris is content. With four grown sons, football on a big screen with surround sound and fishing on a nice boat is his life. I do enjoy the boat. After all, it has a kitchen, bathroom and shower. I even like to fish but draw the line at cleaning them.
The lake is lovely. I have watched but not appreciated the heavenly mixture of sunrises and sunsets God paints. The pelicans, proud and majestic catching fish and cleaning feathers are a privilege to watch. The fawn crossing the cove and the eagles in their nests are all stories waiting for my pen. All is glorious and amazing.
That evening when Chris returns from work, I greet him in a turquoise sweater and wool pants that match my eyes. My hair is loose and curly, and makeup helps.
"Where are you going looking so good?" he asks.
"I joined a poetry workshop. Tomorrow, I'm signing up for classes at the college."
Later, walking to my Mustang, I have butterflies of excitement. I look up at the moon. I believe it winked at me.
By Kathie Stehr