The Halfway Mark

In November, we lost my grandmother.

I say lost as though she were an umbrella, temporarily misplaced, when we know that I employ this euphemism to avoid saying that she died. It’s an inescapable fact: she is now dead.

For all the members of my family, this seemed – and still seems – a most impossible thing. She was woven into the fabric of my existence and into the very concept of who I consider myself to be. We thought she would endure forever, being at the time of her death, a venerable 103 years of age.

More than a century ago, when the 1900’s were still young, she was born into a world without televisions or computers or space travel.

In my mind, she was an English woman of a certain age. That is to say, cheerful, brave, and eminently no-nonsense. Those who have had a beloved British granny know, after those ladies survived the war, nothing could faze them.

Even before my birth, she was already a widow. Whatever sadness she felt at my grandfather’s death, I never knew, because her mantra was Keep Calm and Carry On, far before that was the irritating meme it is today.

She took up art in her retirement, and created, knowing that her works would never be masterpieces or bring fame, but painting for the love of it. She lived alone for many decades, in her house of watercolours and comfy chairs and tea and toast.

She took pleasure in her quiet routines: morning stretches, gardening and a cryptic crossword. She was deeply connected to her children and grand-children and would always ring us up to come help with some task or another.

A few days before this lovely lady died, I turned 43. I am now, obviously and impossibly, a grown-up. I am middle-aged. Which I guess means, that I’m in the middle. My life is, most likely, at the halfway mark, although likelihoods and I don’t always see eye-to-eye.

What if I should live to be 103? That means I have SIXTY more years of living to do.

Aging isn’t easy, that I know. I look in the mirror and spot yet another crease in my face or grey hair sprouting. I look tired, mostly, even when I’m not. There are times that I feel that I have yet to do or accomplish anything of any great merit. Oh, especially when social media shows me how fucking awesome everyone else’s existence is. #soblessed !

Although not likely, I’ve got a possible six whole decades to live. Decades to see my children grow, and not just survive, but thrive. Decades to see unlikely-but-not-impossible grand-children to arrive. Again, to likelihoods I thumb my nose with a hearty, “Screw you!”

I’m taking my next page from my grandmother’s book. I’ll create for the sake of the act, love my family members well, and take solace in the quiet daily routines that bring me the most happiness.

There is still time yet for all of my lofty goals and grand ambitions. My glass is half full, full of myriad, swirling possibilities.

As to my grandmother, I know her spirit roams a sunny meadow, an easel at her side, in the bright company of all those she loved who passed before her. Be at rest, sweet lady.

This is not a portrait. She didn’t like this painting much. In fact, it hung on the landing of her basement stairs. I have always loved it.

In memory of: Clarice Elizabeth Dalzell Spencer née Kenworthy. 1915-2018

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