The Skinny on the Dipping
Not too long ago, I was able to get together with three women who I have known since I was three years old. There were several times in our united pasts where we were inseparable. We grew up in the same church, liked the same boys, and between parties, dances, and camps, there were many, many happy memories.
One such story occurred when the four of us plus several other girls gathered at one of our grandma’s house for a swimming / slumber / birthday party. Based on the memories I have saved, I am guessing it was a twelfth birthday. At one point during the evening, we all dared and double-dared each other to go skinny-dipping. The bravest of us stripped down completely, climbed out of the pool and squealed with delight-laced fear as she rounded a pool corner, courageously scampered onto the diving board and ran full-steam off the end. The rest of us soon followed suit. The fear of being caught was utterly delicious. A memory seared.
“We return to our youth”
My mother worked for many years as an Activities Director in nursing homes, as well as housed and cared for her aging father when he could no longer care for himself. She often shared observations from her work and her dad that surrounded the reality of growing older, “We return to our youth and live in those memories often.” I trust this to be true as we, four long-time friends of over forty-five years (yikes!), giggled and squealed, hugged and shared secrets like our once twelve year-old selves.
Time has its cruel way with us
It is easy to get caught up in the friends and work of today, pushing childhood friends, parents, and siblings to a back room, in the recesses of our minds. They are simply being stored for tomorrow, a tomorrow that creeps up on us far too quickly. Knowing this, having seen my grandfather and father prove the facts of age, I have learned to approach getting older a bit differently. It would be easy for me to say half my life is over, for surely it is, and then give up on a future or improving my life or my work further. My work and life (love and children) today are the center of my world, they must be as I want, reach for, and achieve happiness.
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But from what I know of the regret and wisdom that comes with age, I know that those are not the only things of which I will care about in twenty plus years.
Where Wisdom is Cultivated
I know that I will remember even more perfectly a slumber party where I skinny-dipped, a parade where I rollerskated as a clown with my brother’s scout troop, watching fireworks explode over a vast Midwestern lawn, telling my mom about my first kiss at fourteen, riding skateboards and crawdad fishing with my brothers, traveling across the country with my parents and siblings in a 1967 Volkswagen bus and running out of gas or blowing an engine (over and over again), songs by a beach campfire, my dad teaching me how to read and sing the alto line in a song, my mom teaching me how to sew, giggling with Beth, Juli, and Lisa as we talked about boys and becoming women, holding a baby sister with black curly hair, feeding my own babies rice cereal, finally finding love, and then learning to enjoy life over work…
What you do today, those you love today, will line your mind tomorrow. Care for them well. For life it not as short as you think or nearly as long as you would like…
by Rayanne Thorn