Sometimes life is going so relatively smoothly that I want to take a snapshot of it and keep it unchanged. I guess Thanksgiving has helped me concentrate on the blessings rather than the frustrations, but our lives are going well at this time. Everyone in the family has a job, son Matt is putting the finishing touches on his software creation that will be offered for sale soon, Matt and wife Sarah just ran a 5K for the first time (pushing Joshua in a stroller), the grandkids are all healthy, Mom is doing great (her cholesterol level is actually better than mine....grrr...don’t go there!), Mom’s dog Jenny still hasn’t killed or maimed our new puppy, my older niece was elected president of her sorority, my other niece has been inducted into the National Honor Society, Caroline and Charlotte had an amazing violin recital and are doing well in school, my sister after years of hard work finally got our mom’s house on the market.... and you know, the list goes on and on.
But, of course, change does come. On a description of this blog, I mention that my journey focuses on my response to aging, roadblocks to simplicity, grandparenting, acceptance and celebration of the past, etc., but basically here it is in a nutshell: “....life’s changing roles.” Change is everywhere, from my living situation to my aging body to all my family and friends. Things cannot stay stagnant. Even the seasons remind of that. (Ed told me it is time for our annual call to our local newspaper to ask them to stop delivery until the spring thaw, as the carrier can’t get to the newspaper box because the snow plow drops it all in front, since we got our first real snow of the winter this week.) Holiday commercials are everywhere, and Rachel calls us every day to remind us that her blender is being held together with duct tape and she really, really, REALLY wants a new top-of-the-line blender for Christmas.
But can’t we keep things the same right now? Mom is still with us, my aunt and uncle and Mom’s best friend, all in their 80s, are still with us. I don’t want any more losses, any more deaths. Everyone is healthy and happy and I want it to go on forever.
Change is scary because of the unknown factor, but just when I wish for the power to stop time just as it is now, then I wake to reality: Joshua is a cuter-than-ever 16-month-old toddler, but I am curious to see what it will feel like to have him tell me about what he is doing in kindergarten a few years from now. I wonder how Caroline will be excelling in violin as she grows and fine tunes her already incredible talent. And Charlotte - now there’s a firecracker in training - I can hardly wait to see how she matures and changes! What will the grandkids look like as they grow? What will they be interested in? What things can I help them with and teach them?
The cycle of life is so poignant. Charlotte’s violin is very small, the size that Caroline started with, but awhile back Caroline upgraded to a bigger violin because she had grown. When Joshua comes to visit, we pull out the plastic spoons and bibs that we used for the girls when they were little - and even a toy dog that I used when I was a baby! Each object just shouts “CHANGE!”
Tomorrow our family will celebrate Thanksgiving here (after the kids go to their in-laws today). Since Mom is here, we will have 4 generations together for the first time ever on Thanksgiving, so that will be a blessing. We will gather in the living room to take our annual family Christmas photo, this year having Mom in the picture. That photo freezes us in time, at our current ages, interests, skill levels, physical health - the snapshot of what our family looked like on November 25, 2011. Nanoseconds after the photo is taken, though, things will be changing. Cells in our body dying and replenishing, more life experiences to enter in our brains’ computers, more conversation, more learning - and yes, more pain, more sorrow, more anxiety.
But for today, I close my eyes and picture our family as we are this second - healthy and content - and we all have warm houses, enough food, clothes, and money to live, friends who care about us, but most important, we have what you can’t see in the photo - oodles and oodles of love. And that’s the thing that will support us through all the inevitable changes life will throw at us in the years to come.