I marvel at the little miracles in life that put two people together at exactly the same time, at the same place. If we hadn't had to wait in line to check out our library books ... if we had stopped to play along the way ... if we had decided to walk around the mall instead of cutting through, we wouldn't have run into a friend from my past. We were walking out, just as she was walking into the mall.
I did a double take. It couldn't be, but it was. It was my middle son's daycare provider who used to tell the kids "I'm as old as dirt" when they asked her how old she was. Age has come up often during our conversations and I try so hard to remember what she has told me. But I always forget. She is ageless. And with her agelessness, she is getting younger every time I see her.
We talked for quite some time when I confessed that I almost didn't call out to her because I didn't think it could be her. "You looked too young", I said in a backhanded compliment sort of way. She just laughed as I fumbled over my words and she told me not to worry. Her doctor picked up her chart and left the room because he thought the same thing.
My friend (who is in and around the age of "80") is the picture of youth. She walks with a quick and lively step, she kept running to open the door for those who were struggling [Where was I?, I wonder. I hope my back was to the door. I think it was]. She stood tall and erect her hair was un-gray and well tended. She was happy, grateful and vibrant.
We talked of her daycare provider role and she said she loved what she did. She could have kept on doing it, but she retired four years ago. She loved what she did. It showed. It showed in the relationships she formed with her daycare families, it showed in the way her job did not drain her from who she was, it showed in her devotion to keep at it twenty years past the point where I am right now.
She is full of life, she is invested in her life, she drives, she surrounds herself with people, her cats, still lives in the home she loves and beside neighbors she has known "forever". She makes it all look so easy.
Is it as easy as she makes it look? Or does one have to work hard at making life look easy? What lessons can I take away from my chance encounter with the person I aspired to be like when I opened my daycare?
Look forward, not back. Yes, she spoke briefly about her past but she fast forwarded to the good part. The present. Like it was a gift.
Take care of your body and it will take care of you. She broke her ankle a year ago and was told it would take 12 to 16 weeks to be back on her feet. She did everything she was told to do, went back for her 6 week (??) check up and her doctor couldn't believe how quickly she had healed. She shrugged and said the vitamins she was taking may be working after all. And she added, "I did exactly what I was told to do".
Hold onto your independence as tightly as you hold onto your friendships and relationships. She talked of the good rapport she has with her next door neighbor, the neighbor down the street, her children and the continued relationships she has with her daycare families from the past. She talked just as happily about maintaining her home and her continued fondness of her cats.
If you are a pet lover, I think it is good for your soul to share your life with a furry friend who simply loves you for yourself. And perhaps for the fact that you keep them fed and sheltered but I truly believe our furry family members love you without condition. It is a fabulous way to be loved.
Finding a friend of the opposite gender is not a bad idea. One doesn't have to share a roof but sharing a fence is okay. Someone to call in the middle of the night, or help you with something you can't do on your own or simply share friendship and a different perspective is a comfort and somewhat grounding.
Being at peace within your home, wherever your home may be or whatever your house may be built of is key. Some people look at retirement condos as their ultimate end goal, others find that very same comfort within the house they have always called a home. Wherever "home" is, it is a gift to be able to close your eyes at night and know you are exactly where you want to be.
One chance encounter. One brief conversation. One great piece of perspective and a glimpse of "who I want to be (like) when I grow up. I aspired to be "just like Nettie" when I opened my daycare. I tried. When I failed to meet my expectations, I handed in my notice. Now that I'm retiring from my role of daycare provider, I still hope to be "just like Nettie".
Life's divine timing is pretty incredible. Meeting up with Nettie yesterday and then "this". I was just rereading this post one final time before I hit the "Publish" button and I found this in my inbox (thanks again to ProjectHappiness.com):