This year, 2018 has, for me, several serendipitous qualities. For one, I graduated from high school in 1968 at the age of 18. I, like the majority of my classmates was 68 years old at the reunion. But I have to admit, turning 68 years old has changed me more than any other birthday. And for the good, I believe.
Philosopher and author, Wayne Dyer published a book not long before he passed away entitled, “ I Can See Clearly Now.” It is a book about his life and how when looking back on those times, he was able to see more clearly what really was going on or in some cases why it happened. It got me to thinking about my own life and how I got to be where I am today, a sixty-eight year old woman.
My earliest memory was one when I was age three or four. My brother and I are Irish Twins, born in the same calendar year, me in January and he Christmas day in December. It was Easter and my mother had made matching outfits for the two of us. My sister was not yet born or was a baby. Our mother was an excellent seamstress making her clothes as well our clothes.
What I remember most was not that my little brother and I were dressed so beautifully but that my mother was not happy that Sunday morning. I remember clearly sitting in the big arm chair in our little living room of our home. My brother and I sat together, side-by-side, our legs too short to reach the foot stool at our feet.
He was crying silent tears. I don’t remember why, just that he would not stop crying and the more he cried the more upset my mother got. After we got home, my mother started to get us out of our new clothes. By now my brother is exhausted from not trying to cry and we both show as much patience as two small children can to keep from upsetting our mother more than she was already upset.
My new Mary Jane patent leather shoes would be tucked away until the next time we went to church and my brother’s new saddle oxford shoes were removed. Doing so, my mother discovered a wad of tissue paper jammed into the foot of each of my brother’s shoes. In that split second my mother realized that in taking the new shoes out of the box she had neglected to pull out the tissue and thus my brother was forced to wear his new shoes with the tissue cramping his little feet. This is why he had been crying and yet was unable to tell our mother what was wrong.
Later when she told this story to us, what I remembered remained the same but what I forgot was her over-whelming sense of regret and shame she felt for letting this happen to one of her children. It was not a terrible thing, but one that could have been avoided had she stopped being upset with my brother and taken the time to figure out why he was crying.
I can see clearly now, at age 68, while sitting in that chair, holding my little brother’s hand that I was able to see things from a new perspective. I watched my mother who sat on the step stool discover that tissue paper, and it was the first time in my life that it occurred to me that things just might not be what they seem. It also marks the first time I began to wonder why my mother was always so unhappy. I inherited that same stool and today when I prop my feet upon it, I am mindful of the lessons I learned that Easter Sunday so many years ago. Things are not always what they appear no matter if seen through the eyes of a small child, young mother, or a 68 year-old grandmother.