Once upon a time I was born. I don’t remember it, but I do know my parents received me with such gratitude they named me Joy.
My life after birth was filled with all kinds of lessons and classes, laughter and tears, dreams and disappointments, strangers and friends, and a host of family dinners and summer vacations, and a series of endings when it seemed all was lost followed by new beginnings where almost everything seemed possible.
And then— one day—I (like you and everyone else we know) will die.
These days I go to more funerals than weddings. Salesmen call me “young lady” as they try to sell me things I don’t need.
This year I lost an inch in height and gained an inch in my waistline, along with deeper smile lines around my eyes, and a stubborn crop of random hairs on my chin that no amount of waxing and plucking can tame.
The freckled faced kid behind the counter automatically gives me the senior discount without asking if I’m eligible for this consolation prize.
My doctors all seem to be retiring en masse and are strangely being replaced by high schoolers with stethoscopes.
I have already said goodbye to two children when they left the nest and one day soon I and they will see my grandchildren follow suit.
I have also said goodbye to a meaningful career, a comfortable house and the man who said he would love, honor and cherish me until death us did part.
He did and it did.
I think I have bought my last car and it has a ten year warranty.
Every week I give away something I no longer need and am the richer for it.
I agree with my friend Richard who says: “I am a last half of life person living in a first half of life culture.
After seven decades I should be well along in the pursuit of finding out just who I am. And yet, it seems each day I encounter something new that has an influence on who I think I might be.
I continue to be surprised. I remain as curious as I was as a toddler. And often despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I remain hope-filled
Like you, as a child, I once questioned how much I could cut away and still be me. Would I still be me if I lost a leg, or an arm or both legs and both arms or the ability to see or hear or smell or taste?
In my senior version of this childhood question I recently laid down on my bed in the dark and in the still of the night considered what my life would be like if the lights never came back on and the noises of life remained mute and my still body froze in place.
Am I the sum of my senses. Am I what I do? “I think therefore I am”, but what if my brain can no longer form a thought or remember my name or even manage to conjure up a dream?
One day everything will be stripped away—and on that day I will finally meet me— the real me, unadorned or encumbered by all the “trimmings” I sometimes, in other seasons, considered essential.
It will not be a sad day. There will be no time or room for regrets.
All that will remain will be the most important thing—the only thing that matters when all has been said and all has been done.
And that’s what I call a happy ending.