An elderly man – stooped and grey – bent over to unhitch his dog from the post to which he was tethered. The dog – an aging chocolate lab whose whiskers had faded– struggled to get himself to his feet. To please his master. To accompany and escort him. I watched as the two of them hobbled and limped and leaned into one another…ever-so-slowly making their way. Each – dependant on the other – to get safely back home. I wondered which of the two would be the first to go..and for whom the loss will be greater. The possibility of the sweet loyal pup out-living his mate..was as difficult a thought to bear as was the one of the old man remaining. They were clearly a pair.
That will someday be me..I thought. But – not yet.
With three young kids in tow – a young…worn out and very tired looking woman made her way thru the aisles of the supermarket. The infant was held safe and secure and asleep in her snugli. The baby was doing his best to climb out of his seat..screaming in frustration at the straps that were holding him. The toddler was running up and down the aisles pulling things off shelves..faster than his mother could possibly keep up. I couldn’t help but be struck by her patience..her calm…her love – in spite of her obvious exhaustion.
That was once me…I thought. But – not now.
Snapshots. Little things that – over this past week - I picked up along my way. Moments- of seeming unimportance - that might otherwise pass me right by. If I didn’t stop. If I didn’t look. If I didn’t see.
Having just recently celebrated a birthday - today – I am happily to be found somewhere in between. To the young mother..I might appear old..perhaps even old enough to be her childrens’ grandmother. From where sits the elderly gent..I must look very young with a whole lifetime to live. Here I am. Too young to be old. Too old to be young. Relieved of the daily pleasures and perils and endless responsibilities of young kids and family. Not yet weighed down and slowed by a feeble body and failing mind. There are mountains to climb and oceans to cross before any of that. It’s a good place to be – this ‘middle’. With so much still ahead and to look forward to..and with so much now left behind.
A conversation I had with a woman who I’ve known for years – now 96-years-young – sticks with me. Now legally blind and unable to drive or navigate the world without support..and with shoulder and knee cartilage so worn away that movement is often painful. She was getting herself dressed and ready for her daily early morning swim. We talked small talk. Nothing of great importance or seeming relevance to anything at all. It was somewhere between the review of the day’s weather report and the latest Hollywood scut that she slipped it in. When she gets truly old – she said - is when she’ll start sleeping late in the morning. Until then – she added - she’ll continue to get herself up early and do what she does. Because each new day is awaiting. A beautiful gift.
That’s it….I thought. That’s who I need to be. Not tomorrow..but today. If that’s not inspiring..what is?
At times I’m grateful that I record these moments. Nothing but snapshots…passing images...seemingly unimportant snippets and parts and pieces of my life. Always - with a camera over one shoulder and a pen and paper in hand. It’s these little things that keep me present. It’s the tiniest of pearls that make it all real.