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Years Of Joy Crisis Helps Couple Look Ahead Again, Not Just Look Back

Sun., Jan. 11, 1998

My Medicare card came in the mail the other day. A sinking feeling came over me when I held the card in my hand even though the calendar warned me of the upcoming birthday. I wanted to run to the calendar and circle with an X the troublesome day.

I thought about the day my granddaughter and I drove to the parking lot of Target and into the slot marked Reserved for Senior Citizens. “You can’t park here, Grandma,” she said.

“Yes I can,” I replied, “I’m 65 now.”

She looked surprised. “How can you be 65 when you’re so young?”

But there it is, the truth of it right in my hand, in the form of a tattletale Medicare card. Of course there are other signs of the aging process, like when I look in the mirror and see my mother’s face instead of mine.

Or when I see leftover skin just above the elbow hanging down over the side, and close to the inside bend of the elbow, waves of tiny wrinkles pucker like crepe paper. There’s the aches and stiffness when I overdo yard work or sit too long in one place. But what happened to all the years? Where did they go? They rushed by and melted before my eyes like snow in a warm Chinook wind.

Turning 65 brings a new phase in my life, a time of freedom, a time of giving up on seeking and searching for whatever I thought mattered, to a more placid acceptance of where I am in life.

After retirement, my husband and I cultivated new hobbies. He took up woodcarving, joining a group of talented carvers that meet every weekday to cut and mold ducks, geese figures and Old World Santas. His days are full and fun while producing hand-carved treasures for family and friends.

My days are filled with creative writing and watercolor classes. I recently self-published a book “Remembrance,” a family story weaved through the Great Depression and World War II.

Since retirement I have kept a journal, recording our steps along life’s way, our fears, joys and insights. My journal is a record of times with family, friends and grandchildren, Sunday matinees at the Civic Theatre or afternoon tea parties on the deck, or noting the progress of our disabled granddaughter, Robin.

Last spring, my husband Richard was diagnosed with colon cancer. He has survived surgery, chemo and radiation treatments with the help of fine doctors and the prayers of family and friends. This crisis has changed our priorities. We dedicate the remaining years to each other vowing to be more alive than ever, happy with ourselves and with others. We are thankful for our Christian heritage which gives us comfort and strength to meet challenges.

We hear, taste and smell the delicious seasons of life: the spring of our tender youth in Palouse country, the full-bloom summer years of marriage, children and careers, the crisp fall years of reaped harvest and rewards for a job well done.

We stroll leisurely into the winter years, a quiet, graceful turning time of peace, contentment and love. We are bathed in a warm, golden time of life, still laughing and learning, still reaching out like voyagers across waters, sailing toward new horizons and new tomorrows. Life is good.

MEMO: Mary Ellen Poffenroth is a free-lance writer who lives in Spokane.

Mary Ellen Poffenroth is a free-lance writer who lives in Spokane.


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