|Mama and me at Pete and Norma Jean's wedding|
Mama lived to be 69 and died four months prior to her seventieth birthday. I remember talking to her on the phone about the big day, but I think she knew she would not live to see it. Not long after this picture was taken, Mama developed breast cancer and, although she survived it, her heart was damaged from the radiation they gave her. She suffered numerous heart attacks over the years that followed. She always rallied and sometimes came back from her trials seemingly hale and hearty, but she took a massive amount of powerful drugs daily to keep her that way. Mama was a fighter. She was the center of my universe in so many ways, but I didn't know it at the time. It was only when she was gone that I realized how bereft I was.
And now, today, I am exactly the same age Mama was when she died: four months shy of my seventieth birthday. The young girl in the picture is now officially old and white-haired. But the difference between the way we have lived our lives, Mama and me, is profound. Yesterday I woke to clouds and grumpily gave up my thoughts of going to Snohomish and skydiving with my friends, so I joined the women's walking group at 8:00am and walked briskly for more than four miles. I kept looking up at the sky and saw blue sky peeking through the clouds, so I went home and checked the web cam at the Drop Zone. As I saw it was indeed beginning to clear, I hopped in my car and headed south. By the time I got there, the first load had been sent. My skydiving buddies Linny and Christy showed up soon after I did, and we made three wonderful skydives together before I headed home at 6:00pm.
Although I was tired and hungry by the time I arrived home, I related the day's activities to Smart Guy as I drank a glass of wine and then had a wonderful dinner. There is no doubt in my mind that I am fortunate to have the life I have, and hopefully I will be able to continue on in this lifestyle for a while yet. But time passes, sometimes quickly and sometimes not so much, as the years and the decades continue to march on by. Mama has been gone since 1993; the young girl I was in the picture is gone too, and the wedding we were celebrating is no longer, since Pete died last year. My sister is now a grandmother with two grown children in their forties. And both of my children are long gone; next month will mark a decade since my son Chris died, as hard as it is for me to fathom that.
Yes indeed, time marches on, and I find myself here, still here, this morning as the sun begins to rise. It's time to begin another day. I have so much to be thankful for. My dear partner sleeps next to me and I tap away at the keyboard, my slick new Macbook Air in my lap. My iPad lies nearby, with the latest book I downloaded onto it partially read. The technology that allows me to video chat with Norma Jean several times a week continues to amaze me. The difference between a telephone conversation and chatting with her while I can see her is remarkable. We mention that every now and then. She tells me she is so accustomed to video chat when she talks to her kids that on the rare occasion one of them will call her, they find it a real hindrance in communication.
It's all what you get used to, isn't it? Our lives today would look like science fiction to the two women in that picture above. Remember the old show "Believe It or Not"? I remember the prediction of Dick Tracy-like watches that displayed the face of the person you were talking to; today it's a reality. All the latest technology has evolved in a very short span of time, when you think about it, and it makes me wonder what the future holds. Probably things I can't even imagine.
When you reach seventy and you begin to think of the future, you realize that the next decade will most probably be one of decline. It's natural; it's the way of life. Even though there are many vigorous people in their eighties and even nineties, they are the exception rather than the rule, and they will also succumb to the ravages of age. It's natural, and I realize that it's also like the passage of time: it's gradual and you don't even realize it until you see an old picture, or until someone you love passes away.
In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy my activities, both mental and physical. I wish all of you, my readers, a wonderful journey as time marches on.