- Posted May 3, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Stumbling in the Dark AND just getting old
I never thought I would actually be fifty four, let alone fifty four and single. I have been known to tell my co-workers that by the time my father was this age, he had been dead for four years. Since my dad died at such a tender age, I feel blessed to still be here and kicking! He was so young in every way and when I lost him as a freshman in college, I just knew that I would die young as well. So far, as luck and apparently my mom’s genes would have it, I am still here…whew.
I married at the tender age of 23 and immediately got pregnant. My husband was six years older than me and we wanted a house full of kids so I figured we had better get cracking. Six years and four kids later we stopped the baby production and settled into the enviable position of being completely broke, in debt past our eyeballs but completely in love with each other and with our kids. Time rolled on and I went back to work. The debt was still pretty heavy, but now the love was gone and soon, so were the kids. It was time to start over.
I was working in a position that did not pay enough to support me month to month let alone continue to pay down the debt, so immediately I found a new job, two hours from my home. Fortunately, three of my kids, and my grandson, lived in the town I was moving to, so life was not as bad as it could have been. I spent the first few months living with my oldest child and her family and then moved in with a friend of mine. After having my own home filled to the gills with kids and noise, I was most certainly stumbling through this weird first year. Papers were filed, lawyers were hired, we said the obligatory ugly things to each other and soon, I was moving into an apartment and life was beginning to even out.
After a year and a half in the apartment, I decided it was time to buy a home and go back to school to get my Masters. I lost my mom that year and realized that I was the next generation to go. Nothing in the dating world had convinced me that I would ever re-marry so I figured if I got my Masters I would increase my pay as well as the amount I would earn in retirement. I also figured that if I had a house, I would never have to worry about being homeless…now that is some logic! Three months later, I closed on my house and started my Master’s degree program. My ex re-married six months later and the stumbling continued on …and on. Navigating a new home, a graduate program, an ex with a wife that was not me, kids continuing to get older, a new job and a body that was not as resilient as it had been in years past, took courage and determination. I am proud of every step I took in those years to learn to be independent and happy.
Lately I have noticed that I do not have as much energy at day’s end. I work two jobs, am very involved with my children and grandchildren and try to have a very small social life. Most nights, however, when I finally get home after a twelve hour day, all I want to do is sit and watch a little tv…or fall asleep on the couch in front of the tv, depending on how exhausting the day was. In my mind, I am still that exuberant young girl, full of energy and needing almost no rest. In reality, I am getting older. Some days I wonder if this life of hard work and a deathly quiet house, is the forever normal. Back in the child rearing years, I never even imagined a house this quiet. Frankly, the idea of being alone was terrifying back then. Now, very little scares me. I have been through the dark and have lived to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I continue to stumble on occasion, like when the air conditioner breaks or when it is time to file my taxes, but the stumbles are less and less frequent. Getting older, while not necessarily getting better in the mirror, has had its strong sides as well. There are moments when I feel wise, smart and capable. My hair may be grey and I may have a few crow’s feet, but oh well…If I don’t pass a mirror, I don’t ever notice!