Guest Author: Marti Wright Unger
It seems these days that change means more than just loose change in a pocket.
Changes can be good……..exciting……..invigorating. But these last few years the changes in my life and the lives of friends and family seem to be more like unwanted challenges.
The biggest changes for me seem to the physical ones. The long walks are becoming less long and less invigorating. Stairs are not quite as easy to climb. Conversations seem more difficult to hear. Books seem to be printed in much smaller type. Small items seem to get misplaced more often. I’m never sure if I’m repeating myself.
And even though life’s losses are becoming more significant, more frequent and more deeply felt, I feel fortunate that the changes in my life right now seem relatively small. Others are experiencing empty nests, feeling lonely and wondering what to do to fill the new free time. Friends are experiencing major health issues, sometimes even moving from the ‘here’ to the ‘here-after’ and leaving large empty holes in the hearts of family and friends.
But despite the many changes and challenges life throws at us, I am resisting the urge to give in to a negative attitude and the feeling that it’s ‘all downhill from here.’ (Not that I don’t sometimes pull a pillow over my head and ‘burrow’).
I’m awe-inspired by the poem ‘Someday’ written by Bob Barry, the husband of classmate Betty Cadwell Barry. Despite a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, he is choosing to focus on what he CAN do each day, rather than what he can’t do. (See poem below)
SOMEDAY By Bob Barry
Someday my lovely wife will help me out of bed and life will be gray, but not today. Someday my whole body will shake and I cannot stop it, but not today.
Someday I will shuffle about afraid to take a step, but not today.
Someday my voice will be barely audible, but not today.
Someday my golf clubs will collect dust in the garage, but not today.
Someday someone else will drive me in my car, but not today.
Someday someone will take me to a ball game and I will sit and stare, but not today. Someday I will drool in an embarrassing moment, but not today.
Someday I will look in a mirror and wonder who I have become, but not today.
Today I get out of bed and hug my wife and give her a big kiss, because I can.
Today I wake up and smile at the sun and have my coffee with out spilling a drop, because I can.
Today I will pull on my socks and tie my shoes, because I can.
Today I will sing songs with my friends loud and clear, because I can. Today I will walk the back nine looking for golf balls, because I can. Today I will play golf with anybody that wants to, because I can. Today I will drive my car anywhere I need to because I can.
Today I will wipe the mustard from my hot dog at a baseball game, because I can. Today I look in the mirror, smile and say, “It is what it is”, because I can…
Today I will do everything I can with passion and excitement, because I can today. Today my God has given me a reason to love life like there is no tomorrow.
There will be a” Someday”, someday, but not today.
SHAKEN BUT NOT BROKEN
With Bob as an example, I choose to do the same. I celebrate every walk I take, long OR short; each stair climbed, even if I end up taking the elevator; each conversation I can hear (or pretend to hear); each hand I hold; each moment spent with family and friends; each book that I am able to read, reading glasses , large type and all; chuckling at the misplaced items that I know will turn up, somewhere, someplace; caring less and less if someone hears my comments over and over (and maybe even over AGAIN).
- If I can’t get to a favorite birding site, I enjoy the birds that come to my bird feeders.
- If the news of the world becomes too depressing, I turn to a comedy, favorite music station or good book.
- If I can’t get to an adult education class, I turn to the History Channel or to the computer…….the Kahn Academy, YouTube, TED lectures…………knowledge at one’s fingertips! Who knew where the world of computers would take us?
- If travel plans seem overwhelming, I just pack a LOT lighter and let someone else do the planning/driving!
- Hobbies are turning from active to more passive: piano lessons; family genealogy research, book club.
- Get-togethers are more likely to be potlucks than full-on displays of exhaustive cooking skills.
I frequently say, mostly in jest, “Life is good if you don’t weaken.” And though there is an element of truth there, to be sure, when life throws more at me than I can handle, I know that my strength will eventually give out. And when it does, I plan on looking back and saying: “Thanks for the challenges, changes, and opportunities to grow and share with others.” Life is quite the ride.
Marti Wright Unger RAHS ‘62