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One Woman’s View

Looking backward

Contributing writer

Another year has ended. Not only that, the first decade of the 21st Century has passed. For people my age, it seems only a few months — or possibly weeks — ago that we were arguing about whether the century began with New Year’s Day of 2000 or 2001. As you can see, I was in the 2001 camp. This is a time when I find myself, as others also do, looking back over the past year, the past decade, or even my lifetime.

Again like others, I can recall a lot of loss. During the past year, my agility and mobility has declined considerably — a process that has been going on for a number of years. During the past decade, I had to adjust to being “alone” after my husband’s death in 2003. I put the word alone in quotation marks, because I have not been alone. God has blessed me not only with His presence but also with a multitude of good friends who have stood ready to help me with all the problems facing a widow.

For eight months, I also endured the loss of my driver’s license because of unstable blood sugar levels. Believe me, that was the longest eight months of my life. However, the aforementioned good friends saw to it that I got to all the places I needed to go and some I just wanted to go.

Over my lifetime, I’ve racked up more losses than I can begin to list. Having grown up in a close family, the deaths of my parents and brothers hit me hard. My husband and I were unable to have children, another major sorrow. Because I chose to quit teaching full time when I married — probably an error in judgment in hindsight — and because I have become insulin dependent, I have descended further into poverty. Although I tried to return to teaching, I was never able to retain a full-time position. Now I am dependent on food stamps and Medicaid, but I am very thankful that support is available to me. As I keep mentioning, I also get a lot of help from friends.

Those are some of the major losses. What about the blessings? I often say that although God did not choose to bless me with womb children, He gave me a lot of heart children. In recent years, they have blessed me with “grandchildren” and “great-grandchildren.” If I had been able to have children of my own, they could not treat me better.

I hope I’m not sounding like a broken record, but as I ponder this theme, I keep coming back to friends. In the Christmas just past, Santa Claus treated me much better than I deserve, and this is not a rare occurrence. And the practical support friends give me is only a small part of the blessing. There are always people I can turn to for emotional support or just for a good time.

Speaking of a good time, another great blessing in my life has been laughter and fun. Sometimes I think we underestimate their importance. I love to laugh. A gift I inherited form my dear mother is the ability even to laugh at myself. I think I become better and better at this as time passes. Believe me, if you learn to laugh at yourself, you will have a lifelong source of amusement. Not all the sorrows of a lifetime have dimmed my ability to laugh.

Another major blessing in my life has been books. Unlike most of my family, I had the opportunity to get a college degree for which I am grateful. I also am one of the most frequent visitors at the public library. I can’t begin to express the pure pleasure I get from learning and from just reading for fun.

As you look back at decade’s end, I hope you too can point to many more blessings than losses. God bless you all in the decades to come.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2010

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