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Monday, June 21, 2010

A Matter of Time

When I was a young girl, I thought time moved so slowly.  I remember playing Monopoly one summer.  We had an on-going game.  It was a way to help time go by.  My best friend and I would play for hours.  We loaned and borrowed money back and forth to keep the game alive.  The days seemed to drag by - one day slowly after another.

Now that I am a "Senior Citizen", oh the sound of that!  Anyway, now that the kids are grown and gone, I thought the days would return to the slowness of my youth...not so!  I am one of these people that has more projects going than time to do them.  I don't move as fast as I used to nor do I think as quickly, but I have way too much to do for the time to do it.  My problem lately is that I am looking at the overall time that I have left.  I have never thought about trying to get everything done in "my available time" as I have lately. 

When I look at the whole of a person's life, there are four life changing phases.  First, childhood.  I think most kids don't even think of this as a time of life.  They just go through it with all of the delight of a child.  Before you know it, you are smack dab into phase two - "the family person" with children or profession or whatever goes along with those mid years.  This is a big phase and when living it, seems to take forever but when over, seems like it was a blink and gone.  I am currently in phase three, the years that are the biggest life change for me.  Phase four is coming way too fast.  I have too much to do before it catches me.

I remember when my youngest, my daughter, left for college.  It was the saddest day for me.  I felt so lost.  All of my kids were gone into their excitement of phase two and I was beginning my phase three.  I did nothing for a time.  I would sit and stare out the window and time did go by as slowly as those early Monopoly years.  I had some grandchildren by this time but they were busy in their stage one and their parents, in stage two, also were too busy to bother with me in stage three.  After brooding for a time, I began finding things to keep me busy.  I went to work, took care of my in-laws, jumped head first into family history work, and began enjoying the grandchildren and my new phase. 

Now I am into my 60's and my husband will be retiring soon.  I have my own business, run a Family History Center, try to stay involved with the grandchildren, stay in close contact with my mother as she is now in her stage four, and trying to get all of the many projects completed before I hit stage four.  It is this stage four that scares me. 

I have never thought about the "end" of time - at least earthly time until lately.  I do believe in a hereafter and do believe that it will be beautiful and that it should not be anything scary.  I don't think that I am afraid of death itself but I think I am scared of watching time get closer.  I look at how old I am and know that I probably won't live longer than - say 92.  That would give me 30 years and looking at it that way, it seems like a lot of years.  My youngest child turned 30 this year.  But looking back at THOSE 30 years, wow, they went way too fast. 

When I was in my 20's, I had cancer.  My kidney was removed and no other cancer was found in my body.  I had no chemo or radiation or anything.  I was very lucky because the doctors said the kind of cancer I had hits the vital organs and takes lives quickly.  I was young.  At that time I had three little boys.  I was barely into phase two.  Even then I didn't think about the "end".  I knew I could die but I didn't feel like I was going to die.  I wasn't scared of death or even of the future. 

I don't know why I am thinking about time so much these days.  With my husband retiring soon, we could have years ahead of us to travel, be with family, and to do all of the things we need to do (or so we think we need to do) before we get into phase four.  Maybe it is because my body aches and I just can't do what I used to do physically.  Everything takes longer.  I don't have a fast speed in me anymore and this is frustrating.  This probably makes no sense to anyone in phases one or two but I think those in phase three and especially those towards the end of phase three may just be seeing things as I am.  For the first time in my life, I am realizing that phase three may end in a very few years.  In reality, phase four could begin as early as ten years from now, or even tomorrow, depending on how my body and mind hold out.

Phase four!  I see phase four as the wind down stage.  Right now we live on 60 acres with a large house and huge yard.  I see living here as being very difficult in stage four so that means a life change by moving.  I have thought about this a lot.  I have no idea where we would want to move.  We live in North Idaho right now.  Three of our children live here.  Over half of our grandchildren are here yet the weather here may be too much for a stage four person (even though there are tons of stage four people living here).  I just wonder how my husband and I will do living here (maybe not in this house but in this town and this environment - hmmmm). 

Maybe this is why I am thinking of stage four so much right now.  I know that where we live is work...lots of work.  It was fine when we were in stage three raising our children.  In fact, it was heaven on earth - without a doubt the best place in the world to raise a family.  But with my husband's illness, it made me look at things very differently.  Even though our children are close by, it still comes down to my husband and myself to take care of this place (involving snow removal, road repair, yard maintenance, house maintenance, etc).  When he was in the hospital extremely ill from a horrible infection in his body, I began to realize that I may have to do all of this alone.  I not only can't do it by myself, I don't want to do it by myself thus making me realize that we may need to consider moving fairly soon.  I know that moving will be huge.  We have lived here for over 20 years.  That's a lot of stuff to gather and lots of stuff to deal with in a move.  I know that the older I get the less I want to deal with the emotional impact that moving presents.  It may just throw me into stage four before I am ready.

So life here on earth is a matter of time.  Not looking at the spiritual aspect of life and death, there is a lot going on emotionally with each phase of life.  Being in the middle (towards the end) of phase three, I am a little apprehensive at the quickly approaching stage four but have wonderful memories of the other two phases that so quickly have passed.  My biggest hurdle is to get as much done now as I possibly can because no one really knows when stage four will hit.  I know that I need to just get busy and get doing all of those things that I need to "finish up" and experience as much as I can in the next few years because stage for will be's all a matter of time.

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