The Fourth Quarter: Living in the Light

I’m in a Facebook Group named “The Women of Midlife.” I practice yoga. (I can out-plank and out-chair pose my sixteen-year-old grandsons.) I keep up with current events, bicycle, walk, read, write, and work (part-time.) Inside I still feel like my favorite age: 35. Good Lord, I’m on TikTok! I can’t be that old.

I’ve been in a bit of denial.

Partly it’s because Mom is still doing almost all the same things I do. So I can’t be past middle age. Can I? My hair color and my driver’s license tell me I am. So does my youngest grandson who now measure a schoosh taller than me.

Also, I come from a family with lots of longevity. Grandpa lived until almost 100, and his sister lived to the 100-teens. My goodness, Aunt Mary didn’t take up painting until she was over 85. Mom, Grandpa, and my great-aunts all stayed active, vibrant, and engaged. That’s my plan, too.

I joked to my sister, that it’s more reasonable to say we’re in the fourth quarter, than in the middle. She responded, “Isn’t that a bit presumptuous?” That still tickles and puzzles me at the same time.

Am I really nearing the fourth quarter?

Recently I heard an interview of the author, Mary Pipher talk about her new book, A Life of Light: Meditations on Impermanence. You can listen to the interview here. Mary’s wrote her previous book, Women Rowing North, when she was the same age as I am now. I don’t know which book I want to read/listen to first. I started A Life, but now I want to go back to Rowing.

Women my age, for the most part, experience more joy and bliss than younger women…Part of it’s a matter of time. When I was 40 and a young mother and a full-time job, I just barely could make it to the bathroom.

From Terri Gross’s interview. Mary talks about her book, Women Rowing North.

Oh yes, I remember those times like it was yesterday. Now I’m dealing with a bladder that’s as demanding as a newly potty-train toddler.

I have a little trouble unfolding,

I admit this to my brother-in-law. After riding in the car for two hours, I creak when I stand up. Once I get there, I’m fine. I’m sort of like the Tin Man. I seem to need a little oil.

My kids have begun to hover.

“Aren’t you a little old for tubing,” Wrestler #2 said to me. He might be right.

“No I’m not shrinking,” I told him. “You just have really tall kids.”

“Are you getting out of breath?” asked CeCe. Yes. I’m out of shape and I have too much fat. Still, I can walk all around Epcot Center in the heat. Or Chicago.

Each year at my physical, my doctor asked if I’d fallen in the last year. I’m a bit clumsy. The answer is always yes, once or twice. I decided to add, “A lot less than when I was two.”

The grandkids aren’t tykes anymore. Half of them are adults. They’re all busy with things that big kids/adults do. No more sleepovers, no more pancakes with smiley faces.

I’m saying goodbye a lot more often. I mean the permanent goodbyes of people that aren’t Mom’s age. A friend of mine had a “Going Home Gathering” one of her dear friends died. I like that idea. I’m sure there are many Going Home Gatherings. I know that at least one is in my near future.

What really attracts me to A Life of Light is how Mary loves light.

Me too. She loves sitting in the sun. She loves the way sunshine dapples through the trees, how it reflects off of a pond, and how the shadows play through a lace curtain. One of the very first photos I took with my Brownie camera, was of my toddler sister, Julie. She sat on a bed, looking at a book, rays of sun beaming through an open window. She looked kissed by an angel.

From the inside out, I feel a lot more like this

 I didn’t have much time to sit around and experience the light of grasses at sunset. Or my current custom is I get up and drink a cup of coffee for half an hour in the morning and just look out at the dawn and think and enjoy the gorgeous moment I’m in.

Terri Gross interview with Mary Pipher

Yes, indeed. After lunch, I lingered at the window. A mother had four newly launched babies at the pond. Loved-One and I watched her scold her little ones. She even fended off a curious red-winged blackbird. One baby seemed to beg for food, while Mama Bird, gave an emphatic, ‘find it yourself’ answer. At last Mama conjoled her fledgelings to take wing. I wonder if she’ll miss them.

Find these on Amazon, in your local bookstore, or at the library. Mary’s got a whole list of books on her shelf. I’ll be listening while I’m pulling weeds in my sun-dappled garden.