Sister Mary Dolorita, at St. Michael the Archangel School, in Levittown had a way of turning ordinary assignments into something a little different. One day, instead telling us to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up, she told us to describe who, what, and where we would be in fifty years.
Fifty years? Did people actually live that long???
I described myself as a beautiful little old lady with snow white hair like my Aunt Sadie's (which I later learned came from a bottle). I was a revered writer, beloved by children everywhere just like Carolyn Keene and Louisa May Alcott. After having traveled all over the world, I lived in a tiny vine covered cottage near the ocean, on the edge of a meadow, surrounded by an enchanting wood.
Slow forward fifty years.
Today is my 60th birthday. My hair is now salt and pepper grey. I'm more of a Kathy Bates than a Jessica Tandy. I have not reached revered author status but the emails I've received from children about my first book The Tree at the Top of the Hill have been very sweet. I haven't traveled all over the world but I have managed 47 states and four foreign countries.
I do live in a sort of tiny cottage. You can't get too much smaller than a 32 foot Winnebago Adventurer-no slides(also no vines). Sometimes I live in a meadow, sometimes in the woods, often at the edge of a parking lot near places where Big Jim and I spend a few months working at campgrounds or caverns. I haven’t lived near the ocean yet unless you count five miles from Puget Sound.
But the most amazing thing about me is that - Holy Moly! People do live this long! And when they get to be sixty years they aren’t half as old as I thought they would be!
Today I am counting up all of my nicest presents and trying to figure out how to thank everyone for giving me the gifts that have helped me be who, what and where I am.
- Thanks Mom- for believing in me and making me work harder at Scrabble so I could have a better vocabulary. You were so hard to beat! When I do grow up I want to be just like you. And Dad - for always being proud of me and letting me know it.
- Denis and Terry, You have been there with so many answers and solutions over the years. The best brothers ever! Some of the best answers are Barbara and Bernie!
- Little Bit… Uh… that’s her new name Folks, she forbade me to use “Boop” again. You have been my standard of strength for most of our adult lives. With your honest opinions, sense of humor, and constant support I’ve learned a lot. And you brought in the Drummer Boy to give us a different beat too. But one of these days Boop WILL return.
God gave me the very best family. We may be separated geographically but never in our hearts.
Old friends, Rita, Peggy, Charlotte, Karen, Lori (yes you), Feanette, Joan, Rocky, Cheryl, and MaryAnn , you became my friends in different decades and have influenced my thoughts ever since. I have wished for so long that we could all have a girls night out so you could meet. Just wait until I win the lottery!
And new friends, Jaimie, Karen, Kanda, “Hardluck Lin“, Pat and so many others met along the roads of our new life. Each of you has left pieces of yourself for me to carry.
No, I didn’t forget him. But where do I place my Big Jim? Of course, he’s family, but he’s also my teacher, and my partner, and my rock. And he’s my very best friend. Thank you for loving me but even more, thank you for liking me. I like you too.
A few years ago, I was able to finally track down Sister Mary Dolorita, through yet another favorite grade school teacher Sister Dennis Mary , both were Sisters of Mercy. I wrote her a letter thanking her for encouraging me when I was so young. I was told it as one of the last letters she received. I didn’t want to wait that long to tell all of you what splendid gifts God gave me in each of you. I love you all. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for the gift of your friendship.
So here I am -Middle Aged at last. Wonder what fate has in store for the second half?
See ya down the road,