Until I heard the Canada Talks radio host introduce end of the year lists last week on the road trip home, I had let the above zero temperatures, the bare fields and the patches of grass on the lawn seduce me into eternal fall. Six centimetres of snow the other day ended those delusions. The end of the year approaches, along with totals, summaries, syntheses, and rankings of all kinds. I got to thinking, what would be some of my year-end lists or rankings for 2015?
· I was the mother-of-the-bride.
· I spent entire work days with my grandson.
· I am connected to a person who has ties to an Oscar-shortlisted animation. Julian Beutel composed and produced the score for animator Seth Boyden’s short animation, “An Object at Rest,” shortlisted for an Oscar in the animated shorts category.
· I attended the Grey Cup.
· I received remuneration for a piece of original writing.
· I gave my first ever public performance on the harp.
· I endorsed a political candidate with a sign on my lawn.
One might say, “So what?” Well, my firsts point to my hopes for getting older.
· A deeper connection to family. We live a ten-hour drive from our grandson, so we see him only every five or six weeks. The privilege of spending entire days with him over a stretch of more than a week enabled us to strengthen any bond we have already established. Family, always the cornerstone of life, has never been more important. Being with our children brings unparalleled joy, as did the week we spent at our daughter’s before her wedding. Beyond pride in our children and pure gladness in their presence, we are caught up in a generational shift in the role of supportive older people we once associated with our own parents. Now, it’s our turn. For a time, as we age, we are free to be useful.
· Links to a world I don’t know a lot about. Although I love football, I’m not a sports enthusiast, and I had never been to a Grey Cup game before the children surprised me for my birthday. I needed to consult experienced friends to learn how to dress for an outdoor football game in Winnipeg at the end of November. Now, I have more of an insider perspective that will help me understand future championship games, whether or not I ever get to return in person: the challenges the players face, anticipation in the stands, the social fans, the minute organization.
· Validation of initiatives in my life. The lawn sign is only the beginning of a new level of political involvement. Writing will be invaluable to that end, to add to points of view already in play. Through writing, another passion whose layers I peel away, my knowledge, perspectives, and experience in both the personal and professional realms are accessible to others.
· Life-long learning. We are never too old to learn. In fact, learning might be easier as we age. For one thing, we have so much prior knowledge and experience to bring to new skills. For another, we are able to shake off awareness of what other people think like drops of rain from a coat. So it is with me and my harp—the thrill of a new skill, and the excitement to share it without fear.
These 2015 firsts are, I hope, predictors of what I might be able to build in the years ahead—support for other people, especially family; windows into worlds and perspectives; engagement in issues affecting my community; and a deliberate decision to continue to learn and take risks. Oh, my! I have as much potential as a retired person as I did at twenty!