Today’s story idea comes from Kate Fineske. Now, I have to admit something…I’ve never met Kate. Not in person, that is. But the internet is a brave new world with such people in it as Kate. She is kind and encouraging. She is also a busy blogging lady! Check out her blog at Mothers Central and her personal blog (which is very funny) at On The Go Momma.
Here’s Kate’s idea…
“99 year old woman the day before her 100th birthday. Upper-middle class. Out lived her husband and kids by 20 years. The year is 2075. Conflict: she wonders if she lived all that she’d hoped to out of life.”
I hate living here in this nursing home. It smells like crap. No matter how many times that robot janitor cleans up the bathroom. Living here sucks. And I can’t even watch a decent soap opera. They went off the air over 60 years ago. All I have on this television/wall is Jersey Shore. Those orange skinned crazies dye their hair. I swear they do. No 87 year old has that ink black of hair.
This morning at breakfast, the robot cook brought me a plate of eggs and bacon. They were perfectly cooked, perfectly delicious, perfectly presented. So, basically, perfectly boring. Well, any way, I couldn’t figure out what year it was. Listen, when you get as old as I am you’re entitled to forget such insignificant things.
“Hey, what year is it?” I asked.
“2075, nine months, one day,” it answered. Or was that robot a girl? It was wearing a frilly apron.
“So that would make it what date?”
“October 1, 2075.”
“Well, how about that?” I dug into my eggs, letting them dribble down my chin. Heck, I’m so old I don’t really care if the billy goat hairs on my chin get a little caked with egg. “You know, tomorrow’s my 100th birthday.”
“My condolences,” the robot said as it zipped away.
Condolences? You know, as smart as machines think they are, they really have no social graces. Did I just say “social graces”. Dang. I really am getting old.
Getting old. And all alone. All my nearest relatives are dead now. It’s just as well. It’s not as nice here on earth as it was when I was younger. And you know that society is going to the crapper when Saturday Night Live just isn’t funny anymore. Oh, do I ever miss that Tina Fey.
100 years old. Well, not until tomorrow, I guess. But still, that’s crazy old. When I was in my thirties there was this big fad. The “bucket list”. People would make a list of all the things they wanted to do before they kicked off. Now, I’m not proud that I made one of those stupid lists. But everybody was doing it. So I felt like I had to.
And I accomplished almost all of them.
Skydiving was exhilarating. Well, until I peed my pants. Lesson learned: don’t go skydiving after giving birth to five babies in six years.
I performed stand-up comedy. The only funny thing was how fast the audience left. Lesson learned: I am not Tina Fey…did I mention that I miss her?
Australia was gorgeous. But I learned that they didn’t all find it “cute” when my husband suggested we “put another shrimp on the barbie” every five minutes. Lesson learned: Hollywood is not a good resource for researching different cultures.
That’s all I can remember from that lame list. I guess that was a pretty huge waste of my time. I can’t even recall most of what I did. But I do know that almost ever single one had something to do with fulfilling my own wants and desires.
Well, my whole family’s dead. I sure have nothing but time to do what I want now.
I really wish I would have thought about them more.
After I had my last baby. My Gabbie Pants. Well, my postpartum depression was so bad. I’d sit on the couch, holding her and cry. I’d blare “Sponge Bob” on the flatscreen so that the older kids wouldn’t hear me.
The psychologist told me that I needed to put the focus on me. Not the kids. And, being a stupid girl, I believed him. And obeyed.
That’s when I wrote that bucket list. And I stopped thinking about them. I feel like I missed out on them. And I’ll never forgive myself for that. Lesson learned: children aren’t a scheduling conflict. Everything else is.
And then there was Jason. Yes, I loved him. I really did. But I just couldn’t let things go. Socks on the floor, toilet seat up, empty milk carton in the fridge. All of it made me challenge him to a duel. If I felt like he would win, I’d point back to another harsh word or lazy moment when he offended me. It got to the point that he was always trying to keep me happy. He stopped wanting to make me happy. Lesson learned: don’t destroy the love of your life with details. Just love them back.
I may have written a novel (or I might not have…I can’t remember). There were exotic trips and haircuts. Adventures and performances. But they all mean nothing now. Because I’m all alone.
Could life have been more for me? For my kids? For Jason?
The robot nurse rolled my chair into my room.
“Photo album,” I say into the air of the room.
“What year?” the computer says.
See, there are a few nice things these days. Like the big, wall sized computer screen and the voice activated photo albums. Well, voice activated everything. And to think, my grandma kept all her pictures taped in a big, heavy album.
“2011. Pictures of my family.”
I see image after image of my babies. They smile. They’re tan. Blonde. Smiling. Building sand castles and burying their daddy by Lake Erie.
Pictures of Christmas. The ugly sweater family parties. I can’t believe I let my girls have inverted bobs. They must have been so embarrassed. But I thought they were cute at the time. Wrapping paper strewn all over the room. Bikes and teddy bears and Barbie dolls. And huge, toothy grins.
“Pictures of me and my family.”
“All of them.”
Hundreds and thousands of images go past my eyes. Most of them with a child holding my hands, hugging me, planting big, sloppy kisses on my lips. Bringing me breakfast in bed. Runny eggs, burned toast (cliche, I know), grape Kool-Aid (less cliche, and much more sugar). Arms around my neck as they got older and taller. Weddings. Grandkids. Great Grandkids.
Then the last photo. The one I tell the computer to freeze on. The kids are all standing around Jason and me. And my husband is holding me steady. The tears in my eyes sparkle in the flash of the camera. All six of them are smiling at me.
This was mother’s day. The last year that we were all together. We had no idea that within seven years I would be the only one left. But on that day, we were happy.
They’d surprised me. Got me a brand new Mustang. Bright orange. They called it my “World’s Best Mom” trophy.
The love of my husband. The adoration of my children. Having been able to hold my grandbabies and great grandbabies. Well, that’s what has made my life so happy. Not the trips or the dives out of airplanes or whatever else it was that I did.
I look at this picture and let myself drift toward sleep.
The love of my family is all I want for my birthday.