Looking Back. Again

There is a definite rhythm to life often not identified until time has passed and looking back can finally occur. It seems like I look forward lots less and look back  more often to see where I’ve been.  I am frequently surprised to see how I managed the journey. I can perceive that where I’ve been determines where I’m going. Sort of like, I’m my own passenger on a disguised journey.

I have good friends who are highly organized planners, in charge of the lives they are living. They hardly ever experience surprise. They are not winging it. Not running blind. Never unsure of their method. I sometimes envy them. They are so “together”.  They are steady. I am fortunate to have them running along side. They steady me with their steadiness! My kind of approach to life needs to be seasoned with balanced people.

When I’m off the rails, they steer me back. When I’m so down that I’m below the dumps, they haul me back up, pat down my heart and give me perspective, that thing I lose with some frequency. They are my blessings. You all know who you are.

When I was growing up, never mind the stint in orphanage, I was surrounded by Mama’s huge family. She was one of ten kids, all who married and multiplied. I had brothers and a sister. Well. I still have brother and sister. But I produced only one child. She lives quite a distance from me, as do my siblings. I was the one who wandered.

In my household there is just me and my husband. We’re adjusting to his retirement. His whole life was work, work, work. So this is alien nation time. The past three years were about cancer and stroke and navigating those fast running waters. Three and a half years past my event, I’m doing very well, and my new doc said I’m looking out toward the end of the woods, and open air, blue skies and sunshine on the face of good health. My husband is discharged from stroke care and feeling and acting with more normalcy. It’s all good. We’re both blessed and thankful. This Thanksgiving season we have lots to celebrate.

Have you noticed, I’m a worrier? Whew! I had no idea how much energy that burns!. Worry is a hard habit to surrender. Inherited behavior from Mama, I remember she scheduled a doctor’s appointment because she was concerned that she had nothing in the moment to worry about. Her very kind doc did not laugh. Much of her life was hard times and heavy duties, so a day without monsters stalking her were days of suspicion.  Her later years were plagued with time on her hands and not much available for her to do with it. A doer with nothing much to do, she just sat around and fretted. How I wish I’d sat with her, notebook in hand, recording her experiences. She got few accolades for her efforts.

Seventy five years from the event, WWII was the definer of a generation. How it shaped those folks who did all that heavy lifting affected the next generation. Where do you begin to reshape a nation? How do you redefine yourself backward?

Mama, a widow with two kids and one coming, went to work building ordnance for that War. Nitro, dangerous. The work, tedious. The times, exciting. The pay, incredible at 80 cents an hour. The men, plentiful, glamourous. Along with her compatriots, women were utilized in contributory ways, and quickly understood their value. They carried the nation forward while most of the men were away, or going away. Lots of men returned broken. Lots of the women were transformed from girlt to grownups in charge. Abruptly returned to the kitchen, their resentment simmered as the men took their jobs and needed emotional tending besides. You can just imagine the endless adjusting.

Who we are now was determined so long ago we hardly credit it. Most of us have stashed those memories away in a package labeled DONE. But I had this idea that those memories, at least for one representative family, should be dusted off and remembered. Well, why not. The book shelves, the lists at Amazon, the libraries are full of the war stories of the men. Veteran’s Day, this past week, honored the men.

Because I lived with a woman living several lives at the same time, I think I owe it to her and 6 million other women, to tell that story, which in turn, is mine.

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