on turning 71 today

It’s March 11, 2011.

There was a terrible earthquake in Pacific Ocean today, and Japan is being hit with 30 foot waves. Tsunamis of various sizes are headed toward both North and South America. Untold lives are being destroyed even as I write this.

Rebellion and unrest in the Middle East and Africa continues to escalate, as untold lives are being destroyed even as I write this.

The state of Wisconsin is leading the way toward an America I’m not going to want to live in, and untold lives are being destroyed even as I write this.

It is my 71st birthday today, and, as I watch and listen to the devastating events going on all around me, I am grateful for the life I have right now, uneventful ‘tho it often is.

And that’s why today, on my 71st birthday, I am filling out forms to be a hospice volunteer — because I am used to doing useful things and need to do something useful with the time I have left.

When I moved here to be with my daughter and family two years ago — after almost a decade of care-giving and 40 years of various other “useful” jobs — I thought that I would be happy hanging-out, relaxing, reading, doing my crafts, gabbing with my daughter, playing with my grandson.

Well, I’ve been doing that for two years, and now I’m ready to get on with some kind of more useful life.

There are about five nursing homes in my immediate area, all of which have hospice units. I’ve been on the receiving end of hospice services as a family member through both my dad’s and mom’s illnesses. I know, from experience, what kind of support people in that situation need. And, since I was an undertaker’s daughter, death has been a part of my life since I was born. It is as though I am coming full circle.

I’m not doing this for altruistic reasons. My reasons are rather selfish. I need to interact with and meet other people (and I discovered that the gym and senior citizen center are just not my style); I need to do something useful.

And that “usefulness” might even spill over to my creative crafting, since I would be interested in making the kind of “memory pillow” that I made for my mother for others who might find them comforting.

So, at 71 I’m shifting gears yet another time so that my time here has meaning for me. My mother lived until she was 94. I don’t know if I’ll last that long, but, while I’m here, I want to be engaged with the world in a more meaningful way.

For my birthday dinner, my daughter is making my favorites: shrimp scampi and key lime cheesecake.

It’s my 71st birthday, and, even as I write this, my life is good. But as I watch the news on CNN, I wonder — for how long?

2 thoughts on “on turning 71 today

  1. Happy Birthday, Elaine and happy 364 days before your next one. Good for you to become a Hospice volunteer. I trust your volunteer duties will be rewarding for you and I know you will add to the quality of the lives of others. Wishing you all the best!

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