An elder meme

It’s not easy to find something to write about every day. One of the solutions seems to be memes (me me). Most of them are trivial and easily dismissed, but the latest one going the rounds of elder blogs asks you to list five things in your life now you never dreamt would be in your life when you were 25. I first read about it in Blogging in Paris; Ronni Bennett took up the challenge today.

I’ve been thinking about it all morning, beginning with determining what year I was 25 (1959), where I was (returning to Chicago from California), how I felt. Briefly, I wallowed in those memories and realized I don’t really want to write about them in any detail. Suffice it to say, I bought into the American dream: a house in a posh suburb, a husband who brought home a good paycheck, a beautiful daughter, no ambition other than being a good wife, mother and homemaker; Betty Furness incarnated. That was the only ambition women were supposed to have. I was also severely depressed and might have been institutionalized if it hadn’t been for another Betty (Friedan), who published The Feminine Mystique, attacking the then hugely popular notion that women could find fulfillment only through childbearing and homemaking.

So, everything I am today is different:

1. I am happy, not because I have achieved some goal or passed some milestone, but because the sun is shining; birds are singing; trees are beautiful.

2. I have learned to live in the present. I didn’t know what that meant at 25. I am not without goals, or things I want to achieve, but I have a clear picture about what is really important, family and relationships, and what is secondary.

3. I am divorced and live alone. I went from my mother’s house to my husband’s house, all the time wanting to run away. Now I know I love living alone. I no longer want to run away. I wouldn’t mind more companionship, but I hope to always eat breakfast alone.

4. Like Claude, I also became a teacher and loved it. It seemed impossible to me back when I was in college and when I was 25. Most of the time I taught adults. Once I had a pre-teen class and decided I would never do it again. I taught in a college in Chicago and found I preferred the older students in evening classes, in spite of being tired, to the younger, just out of high school kids. I was able to support myself and earn enough money to live comfortably now that I am retired. At 25, I was sure I would have a husband to support me. How things have changed.

5. I live in Pittsburgh. When I returned to Chicago, at 25, I never thought I would leave. I loved Chicago, knew everything about it, photographed most of it. When I left 10 years ago, to be near my daughter and her family, it was with the added inducement of being near New York, my second favorite place to live.

Maybe ten years from now I’ll do another one of these, telling you what I never dreamt would happen to me after I was 73.

2 thoughts on “An elder meme

  1. I’m glad you shared this. It makes me feel I’m getting to know you a little bit more each post.
    But I under the empowerment that comes with finally learning how to live your life instead of through others around you.

  2. That’s really lovely, thank you. You will force me to think. I was a miserable person at 25, fractionally better at 28, and now I’m rediscovering myself again. One never knows what will happen. Thanks for this. Thanks too for your note.

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