My high school class celebrated last weekend. We are turning 60 years old this year. I was honored to share some thoughts with them and to be able to pass some of those thoughts to you.
Romper, stomper, bomper, boo ... and I see someone with sore knees and someone with gray hair. I never got to be on Romper Room, but oh, how I listened closely for Miss Jean to say my name.
I was always a "Do-bee” and dutifully got on my horse to gallop as instructed. At the end of each show I crouched close to the TV set in the basement rec room, hoping she could see me through her magic mirror. When she said she saw somebody waiting patiently with a smile, I knew she finally saw me!
I think that as children, we were the luckiest of generations. We truly grew up in the wonder years. The 60s were turbulent times; we remember where we were and what we were doing on the somber day JFK was assassinated. The whole nation tuned in to watch with bated breath as our astronauts took the giant leap for mankind.
Yet, we had the freedom to play from after breakfast till the streetlights came on, pausing only for meals or a quick, refreshing drink from a garden hose.
Our neighborhoods were scattered with kids; trying to advance from onesies to Around the World -- arguing whether a golf ball or a Super Ball was the best selection, always discarding the small red rubber ball that came with the jacks. Others were testing their marksmanship with slingshots and peashooters! We’d get zinged in the arm by a missile-like pea causing an impromptu game of chase the boys.
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I remember the gorgeous illustrations with Winnie the Pooh stories and was enthralled by what might happen next when my mother would read this line: “When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
It always felt like we were wearing our “big boots” when we would venture to Prospect Park with our flexible flyers or vertigo-inducing, shiny, aluminum saucers.
Deep inside, what age is the person who is your true self? I am always surprised when I look in a mirror and realize I’m not 17. My knees, my hips, and my gray hair are the only parts of me that believe I am almost 60 years old. We laugh about our aches and parts that aren’t as perky as they once were, but our other parts that have aged are treasures. Our hearts have grown in compassion and we’ve acquired wisdom worth sharing.
We have mourned children we were unable to have, raised medically fragile children and robust healthy children. We are overcoming addictions. We miss the advice and comfort of our mothers and fathers. We live lonely nights without spouses who are gone. We have lost a part of our own history upon the passing of brothers or sisters.
We have wept over the gravestones of our children, and we wonder who to turn to with secrets, giggles, and stories that only our best friends would understand. We have endured cardiac events, cancers, chronic conditions, brain injuries, and other calamities.
But here we are celebrating life. We have been blessed with another day, another month, another year. What I see in all of us is bravery.
I see adventurers. I see people who honor those who are gone by living life to the fullest. We are seeking happiness, chasing dreams, trying new things, loving again, reaching out, kissing madly, and rolling in the waves,
Let’s celebrate life. Let’s continue our adventures. Let’s live life full!
Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.