Gone Girl – that’s me. I’ve been absent from this blog for many, many months, joining the ranks of languishing blogs everywhere. Three and four months ago, I launched a few posts about what was happening in my life (The Pieta, You Haven’t Seen This One and Riding Shotgun) and then went silent. And although my blog has been silent, my emotions have not.
Just yesterday, I honored my late aunt’s wishes by scattering her ashes at sea. Maybe this day, a day spent with loved ones and my aunt’s pastor, was what I needed to kick-start me back into the blogging world. My emotions have been all over the place these last six months – scared out of my mind that I was going to lose my husband, Charlie; wracked with a deep grief that I failed my childless aunt in her final hours; deeply sad at my mother’s continuing decline (she is in hospice).
The sailboat captain’s “crew” was his wife. It was a pleasure to watch how they worked together, effortlessly in tandem, to take us out to sea on a practically windless day. At one point he shared that in the recent past they had lived on this boat for 21 years along with their son. I asked him how long they had been married and he said “40 years. And, I wish we could do it all over again.”
How that resonated with me – I wish I could do it all over again. As with everyone, my life has been a series of highs and lows. Those highs and lows have brought me to the place I am today, the person I am today. If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d change my experience, even the lows, because changing those experiences would change the outcome and I might be a different person.
Although I am happy with who I am as a person today, I’d like to have another 60 years to do it again. But not 60 years of continuing to age to 120, but 60 years at this age – the age where I am comfortable in my own skin, feel that I have made it to a place of maturity and wisdom with the emotional strength to meet life’s challenges.
One of those challenges is Charlie’s continuing care. At 2-years-old he contracted polio. As a young child, he had multiple, experimental surgeries to tighten his muscles with the hope that he would walk again. And, at 12 he did learn to walk again. Now at 65, he suffers with post-polio syndrome and in his case, his lungs are struggling because those muscles have weakened as he has aged. And while he has recovered to about 85% of where he was before his incident in March, and he is currently stable, he requires more help than he did in all our years together. Until now, he has been completely independent.
Over these past many months, many, many people have told me, “Charlie’s lucky to have you.” I know this comment is made in kindness, but it befuddles me. Why is he lucky to have me? Aren’t I lucky to have him? Marriage isn’t all fairy tale romance and roses. It’s hard work, set backs and challenges. But it can include moments of such great joy that you just know you will burst from happiness.
So, now when people say this to me, I answer back “on our wedding day, we exchanged vows and part of those vows say:
for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health…
Isn’t that what marriage is about?”
Gone Girl – I retired from my day job this past Thursday. As I got ready for the day on Friday morning, my first day of retirement after 46 years of working, I burst into tears. Buckets of crocodile tears streaming down my face ruining my newly applied eyeliner and mascara. Confused, I thought “what the heck is wrong with me?” Then I realized I was relieved. It was like a concrete block around my neck dragging me underwater all these years had been lifted. I can do so much more of what I want to do and not be burdened with making a living too!
Two years ago I decided that I wanted to retire at 60. So, for the last two years, I’ve been working to make this happen by planning for my eventual retirement. Life interfered in late March rearing its ugly head with my husband’s sudden and serious illness, but this set-back only strengthened my resolve to retire. Constantly torn between wanting to be with my loved ones in the hospital (both Charlie and my aunt were in the hospital at the same time) when I had to go to work…well, you understand; each of you has had your own challenges and conflicts with loyalty to your job and/or your family. That’s why there’s a whole movement called “work/life balance.”
Anyway, since I’m a wee bit (just a little) on the young side to retire, many family members and friends have asked me what I’ll do in retirement. You see, I didn’t have a “plan” in place with what to do with my free time. Because I’ve never really had “free time,” but have just lived my life at full steam ahead with little downtime. So, it didn’t occur to me that I needed to come up with things to do! I just assumed I’d have plenty to do!
But, now since so many people have asked me “what are you going to do?”, I’ve been making a list:
- Spend quality time with my husband, other family and friends
- Clean out a closet or two or three
- Enjoy all that San Diego County and other places have to offer (in other words, travel a little if I can manage it with Charlie)
- Take photography classes and other classes that inspire me
- And, blog.
Expect to see me back on this blog on a regular basis.
P.S. I chose the cover photo of these sunflowers that I took about 3 years ago at Summers Past Farms because this sunflower has a happy-face! See…
All other photos from yesterday, including this photo of me and Charlie (who’s sitting) from about 4 years ago, were taken by my niece, Tiffany.
Happy, lazy seals on a buoy, San Diego Harbor
Whale-watchers on The America sailing past Pt. Loma, San Diego Harbor