The ‘R’ Word

The ‘R’ Word

An excerpt from Embracing 60, releasing Fall 2018

jeweled necklace.jpg

We were about four hours into our long-overdue lunch get-together when I noticed an odd occurrence. “Oh my goodness! Do you realize that in our thirty-plus year’s friendship, this is the first time ‘retirement’ has entered our conversation?”

To be fair, between two retail work schedules and family commitments, Bev and I don’t get together very often. It’s not uncommon for two years to pass before we can find all the stars aligned to give us a free afternoon to spend together and catch up.

Actually, it’s a miracle that we can even meet up for lunch as seldom as we do, considering the thousands of miles that could be between us. Bev’s an old friend from California. Okay – she’s not an ‘old’ friend. Two years younger than me, she’s technically a ‘younger’ friend. But since I’ve known her for over half of my life, let’s call her a ‘long-time’ friend, then.

I met Bev back in my much younger days, at the young whipper-snapper age of about twenty-four. I attended a small neighborhood church and Bev was the pastor’s daughter-in-law. She and Nick had a little girl first, Lynette. When I followed a year or so later with a little boy, Christopher, Bev filled me in on all the parenting snafus I’d run up against.

I still remember as we chatted one Sunday morning and I bemoaned the terrible-two’s that Christopher was just starting. “Just wait,” she warned me. “The three’s are even worse.”

She was right.

She and Nick added another little girl to their family, Danielle, and I added another little boy, Justin. After Justin was born, I went back to college two days a week. Chris went to preschool, but Justin was too young for day care so Bev watched him those two days. We couldn’t count how the number of times that Bev and I got together in southern California to commiserate with each other.

And now…our grandchildren are older than our kids were when we’d get together for some ‘Mommy friend time’ and let the four kids play together.

In 1993, Bev and Nick changed up the equation and added another little boy to their family. When Curtis was about six months old, they departed from The Golden State and moved to the Lone Star State. For many years, between working and raising families, occasional Christmas cards and birthday cards were our only communication.

Then in 2008, a new relationship moved me to Texas also. Now I don’t live very far from Fort Worth. I’m far enough away that it’s not that easy to get together, but its close enough that it’s not impossible.

Now, when we do manage to fit in an afternoon of lunch and wandering the shops, we don’t discuss potty training, or breaking up sibling disagreements. We don’t talk about fighting with children about getting homework done or cleaning their rooms. Now our children are in the midst of those struggles. Bev and I share stories about the grandkids. (And maybe chuckle a little at the paybacks our children are getting now.) We wander the shops and slather our arms with various scented lotions. We find goodies to drop in our basket – usually more things for our grandkids, sisters, or mothers than for ourselves. We chatter mile-a-minute, stepping right back into our friendship as if we’d never had any lapses.

But today was the first time that retirement entered our conversation. More than once. Not that we’re quite there yet. But we’re close enough that’s we see it approaching on the horizon. And, we’re both realizing that we’re not prepared for it yet. (Can we have another 20 years, please, pretty please?) We talk of insurance and whether Medicare will still be around when we reach that point in the next five to seven years. We touch on arthritis and how diet affects it, and my friend Connie who had bilateral knee replacements this past year. And this subtle, yet there, shift in our topics seems a little odd.

Would I step back in time thirty years to when we were getting to know each other and muddling through the years of young motherhood? Those years when we felt like we’d set adrift with our only compass being the friends we had that were in the same place in life? Not a chance.

It’s the cycle of life. We slowly slide into the next spot, the one our mothers before us filled, and our grandmothers before them. Although we’re further along the road on this journey than we were thirty years ago, we still have moments of joy and elation, and find there are still a few potholes that threaten to momentarily derail us. But I determined that as long as I can traipse through this journey wearing a necklace composed of the jewels of good and treasured friends, all is good. Even on those days when the unexpected ‘R’ word enters our conversations and catches us by surprise.

 

 

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