Finding Now at Seventy

Rolling the hard candy around in my mouth with my tongue, I taste the sweet, the tingle, the tart of the lemon drop. One sensation blends upon the next like the way my mind travels back and forth from thought to thought.

It used to be that the things that floated through my consciousness were about the near future, what to make for dinner, how to get the problem solved, should I call the friend who was having a birthday or send a card?

More and more these days my random thoughts are about the past. Chopping carrots a piece falls to the kitchen floor and I remember the little dog who once would have snapped up that bit eagerly. When I stoop to pick up the orange chip, a tear comes to my eye. I miss that little dog. Then I smile, with the memory of that floppy-eared gentle companion.

The past takes up space in my mind because there is more of it. I am, after all, in my seventieth year of life and it’s a fact I will not be alive seventy years from today. Some memories come with sadness, some with joy, some with regret, some with pride.

Thinking about my mother spending her last years in a nursing home, unable to get out of bed without assistance, I despair. Her independence gone, she made the best of it, chatting with the nurses aids and reassuring her roommate. It gave my mother pleasure to help someone else. I know there were also nights she cried herself to sleep. Will I be able to adjust as gracefully should I spend the last years of my life confined to an institution? Sometimes images of the future make me cringe. Over the years I have learned not to let these worries linger.

After dinner, the tortoiseshell cat settles herself on my lap. I feel her pressure on my aching hip joint and smile as her warmth eases the pain. My thoughts roll from the injury that hip sustained years ago. How I wish I had not fallen that day. Regret seeps in as I remember the cost for being in a hurry. I’m not in a hurry now. I stroke the plump fur critter that is purring on my lap and let the thoughts of past and future drift away.

Noticing the shift from bitter to sweet is not as easy as rolling a hard candy around my mouth. It takes practice to discover that life is not always sour, and not always sweet.