there was an old man

There was an old man… (he didn’t live by the sea, but he did live by me)

“Write your stories,” he said, “your voice is important for your grandchildren and their children to come.”  He went on to tell me about his great grandfather whom he loved so much and not even a shred of him exists today, not even his signature. He was a pallbearer at his funeral. I could actually feel his loss as I was sitting there beside him.

Struggling with my writing and trying to keep a balance, without hurting any feelings, has me contemplating my book, which is a memoir in progress;  I have it half written but I’m getting to the part that requires me to open myself up to the truths that need sharing, the reason I’m writing this book in the first place. His sage advice gave me pause. He lamented the fact that his beloved grandfather lives on in his memory only and he wished there was something tangible of his for following generations to appreciate.

“Write your book and write it your way,” he said to me “let it be your legacy and make sure to use your own voice, be careful no one edits that away.”  I do have an editor and she does cut to the chase, but I also feel very fortunate to have her.

This man turning 90 years old this year is so full of life it’s hard to gauge his age.  He actually crawled through my laundry room window four years ago, as I had once more locked myself out of my place.  At the pool later, I was relating the incident to his wife and said “he was like a monkey climbing up and crawling through that little window and onto my dryer inside.”  She looked at me and said “that monkey is 86 years old” she was laughing and shaking her head in disbelief.

As we sat outside the park clubhouse visiting in the warmth of the sun, he was lamenting the fact that he hardly had any free time anymore. He is teaching himself to paint, in acrylics no less.  Being the social creature he is, friends and neighbors are always dropping by to visit.  They interrupt his beloved project of painting an old barn, he’s trying to get the trees and shrubs just right. He also tinkers with facetting gemstone settings and loves that as well.

I had sat beside him and his wife the previous day at our Parks Valentine dinner. He remarked on how beautiful the flower centerpieces looked. I positively beamed and thanked him because I had done the arrangements, whereupon he said he used to do that for a living.  I laughed and thought he was just trying to make me feel good, but it turns out he was a horticulturist at his university and even took over teaching once in a while before retiring.  He did know what he was talking about.

It’s the day after our Valentines’ dinner and it’s now the Superbowl party carrying on inside our clubhouse.  The old people in our over 55 park love any occasion to get together, especially if food is involved.  The air conditioning makes it cool for some, him included, and that has him sitting outside warming up. Football does not interest me in the least and although I bought a five-dollar square on the lottery board I couldn’t even tell you who was playing.  I was enticed into coming because someone said not everyone watches the game and some play card games while watching.. and THAT was a barefaced lie.  Ah well, I wander outside to keep him company and borrow 75 cents for the pop machine.  I have become a little bit addicted to Dr. Pepper.  I’m very thirsty and it has nothing to do with how much wine I consumed at the valentines party, or maybe it does, hmmm.

As we are chatting I start paying attention to the words of advice he is sharing with me.  As I age and the crossroads in my life are fewer the universe still tends to send me messages even when I’m unaware of asking for them.  I have been struggling with my book and wondering if it is worth it.  I love my kids more than life and some truths may make them feel uncomfortable although that is not my intention.  I feel a need to share my story with other women that may be going through the same struggles I did and what I learned along the way.

This old man, whom I don’t see as old at all, has given me a lot to think about.  The enormity of it doesn’t even sink in until later when I’m in bed turning his words over and over again in my head. Two truths eventually make themselves known. My book is important to me, if I give up now a piece of me dies with it.  What I have to share could save another woman from the pain of self-doubt and inadequacy I felt for so many years.  It is also my life story, my memories, and how I got to this amazing part of my life. Finishing it will be my way of passing on my love and my legacy to my children and my beautiful grandchildren.

This old/youthful man has renewed my spirit and given me a new perspective on my life, no mean feat and I want to thank him for that.  Thank you also for buying my Dr. Pepper, quenching my thirst along the way…

(oh, and that five-dollar square I bought on the Superbowl, well it won me 75.00  and I still can’t tell you who won.. lol)

#mythirdlifeblog #lmbl

copyright February 15th, 2022