When I Grow Up

I’m afraid I’m going to die before I grow up.

I’ve grown old.  I’ve met at least the minimum requirements of sister, daughter, cousin, niece, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and Catholic.  I’ve been a file clerk, fast food employee, bus driver, freelance writer, secretary, advocate, facilitator, and trainer.  I’ve been on boards and in clubs; I’ve organized retreats and reunions.  I done enough and loved enough for a decent eulogy and obit.

I haven’t done what I was going to do when I grew up.  I haven’t written a book.  I haven’t even attempted to write a book.  I ventured toward the book idea 30 years ago by finding out if I could write something others would read.  I sent query letters to magazines by the truckload.  I was ignored or rejected for months then given an assignment by a local magazine.  I wrote.  I obeyed word limits, met deadlines, found good sources, researched, interviewed experts and wrote easy to read, entertaining, thoughtful articles.  I was a monthly contributor for nearly six years until I chose to quit.  Writing 30 years ago required a lot more leg work than it does today.  There was no easy-access research.  I went to the library.  I used a thesauruses and dictionary, electric typewriter, and finally a word processor. Buying five copies of a magazine and seeing my byline was the biggest payoff.  I figure my income was probably $5 an hour, at best.

I stopped writing and drove a school bus for my daughters’ Catholic grade school.  Other than the writing job, I rarely looked for work.  I was a lucky stay-at-home mom.  I had options and people knew it.  That’s how I ended up behind the wheel of a run-down stick shift dilapidated yellow school bus.

My life has been good.  Of course, a good life is not a life without crosses.  I faced health challenges, my parents died young, and my 34-year marriage failed.  I had times when I wondered if I’d recover.  All of this was necessary.  I often think of the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross quote, ” The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Getting old can be ugly, but unless we give up or become resentful and self-centered we are eventually beautiful.  I have become beautiful.

It’s time to write.

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