I am beginning to understand where aging takes us. In this place I call ‘The Waiting Room to Heaven’ we gather each year so that we can regain that part of our being that never grows old. Our spirit remain youthful and we laugh. Stories are shared of the summers past, some very recent others from long ago.
Tonight we celebrated Doc’s 87th birthday and sang with certainty the part that goes “…and many more”. He remains youthful in his spirit and will dance with his wife tonight. Those of us that are younger hope to feel the same way in 20 years.
When I wrote about Etta being in this place, I was newly old and did not know as much as I do now. I understood her personality but I did not understand her reason for being here. Etta had started out, much like my husband and myself, as one of the youngsters. Her husband was with her and she could weave herself in and out of the life because she had another life somewhere else. She came here originally because she yearned to be rich but never quite made it. She needed to be able to go back home and say she had “a place in the desert”.
But as she grew older and her husband died she needed the closeness of a place like this. She need never be alone. It had started out as a pretend life in the cold of winter and turned into the only “real” home she had had since she left that little community and the house across the swinging bridge. So she stayed until her mind slipped away again.
Now I see why older people move into trailer parks. They have a place of their own, a physical space between them and the neighbors. Yet they have neighbor close by, someone that needs them and that they need. It is a very healthy thing for many. Even those that feud with the humans that live next door find some emotional connection.
I was wondering the other day if Etta actually did all those things I wrote about or was it all a figment of her imagination. It seems to me that she must have done it all. When the story did not run true, details were confused, I think that in many cases she just could not keep it all straight. Etta did live and breath, she did take many forms and above all she never let us down by being boring.
I see her in many of the people that I know here. Aging has brought us to a wonderful place where we can truly enjoy just being kids in old bodies and have fun in spite of the way we feel.
Oh by the way, I will be back.