Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
A Sense of Wonder
January 14, 2005
There is a period in a woman's life - roughly between 40 and 80 -- when she prefers not to discuss her age. But I can't see much point in denying that I'm 90. As son Dave said, "Inside every old person there is a young person saying, "What the hell happened?" How does he know?
He's only 58.
Even as I wrote that, however, I heard a little voice in my head saying, "Oh my gosh, what would my mother think?" This tends to prove that there are some things we never outgrow, some voices which are always with us. She would no more have told her age than she would have walked down Broadway naked.
I have long since outgrown my motorcycle, although it was great fun in my middle age. Now I am much more sedentary and consider a trip to the Mall an adventure.
George Sand made a wonderful statement when she was 72, "The thing is that when one's old, in the sunset of one's life -- the best time for richness of colour and light -- one acquires a new approach to everything... When you feel your own 'self' getting less intense, you love people and things for what they are in themselves, what they represent in the eyes of your soul."
I have found that to be so true. I think about things and wonder about things that I always took for granted in my more active years. I do believe that the sense of awe and wonder are gifts given to children and old people. In the in-between years most of us are too busy surviving and procreating to have time to wonder. One of the best things about being a Little Old Lady is having the time to think random thoughts, to find that the sense of wonder was not lost at all. It just got pushed aside for a bit. Now I have time to reflect and wonder at what is really going on around me.
I look at a baby with the same awe with which I greeted my own babies, but without the overpowering sense of responsibility. So I can just look and wonder how the tiny creature can be so beautiful, why its fuzzy hair is gold instead of black, why it's nose is so tiny, what it will look like when it is six feet tall. I wonder how it grows, molecule by molecule, cell by cell or all at once the way mine seemed to. Science can tell me, but I'd rather wonder.
Why are the mountains so high? Why is the sky blue ? Are the beautiful, feathery clouds that I see at dawn over the Bookcliffs really just water and smog and sunlight or something more magical?
But let's face it. Old age is not for sissies. Along with contemplation, comes loss. When my dad was about my age his best friend died and he said with tears in his eyes "All my friends are dying." In my middle aged arrogance I assured him that it was natural and that he should be glad he was still healthy.
Now I understand what he was feeling. I
Often I have said as a joke, but I hope it's true, that I intend to live until we get a woman president, a
Democrat, of course. So It is quite possible that I will set a record for longevity in Mesa County.