Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where Seventeen Went

While we were eating lunch with Steve's parents last Sunday, I looked around the table and remembered that I had first sat on those dining room chairs when I was just seventeen years old. And now, amazingly enough, my own children have grown into teenagers and are sitting there at the same table.

Steve and I are about the same age now that his parents were when I was first introduced to them as a teenager. And now Nathan is bringing his girl friend to that very table, except that Steve and I are the parents instead of the starry eyed youngsters and Steve's parents are the grandparents of the children I hadn't even thought about when I first set foot in that dining room thirty years ago.

At some point when I wasn't even looking, the generations regenerated. And when they did,
they took me along.

Truthfully? I'm not sure that I'm quite ready for all this generational shifting. I'm not sure that I'm ready to acknowledge the fact that I'm no longer the seventeen year old teen, the new kid at the table, the daughter-in-law-to-be, the young girl on the brink of the rest of her life.

I'm not sure that I'm overly thrilled with the fact that I somehow morphed from seventeen into forty-seven and no one even told me it was happening. No one told me that I would go to sleep a few times, cook a few meals, change a few diapers, travel a few miles, and then wake up a few mornings later to discover that thirty years had passed.

Seventeen-year old kids should be warned about that.

Seventeen-year olds should be told, "Don't take Thursday afternoons for granted. Or Tuesday mornings. Don't wish for the day when you'll be eighteen. Or twenty-one. Be happy you're seventeen because one day you'll turn a page on the calendar and you'll be forty-seven and you'll wonder where seventeen went. You'll wonder where the wrinkles came from. And you'll wonder how you survived the heartache that life brought with it. You'll question why you didn't always treasure the joys that were birthed out of the heartaches. You will be well aware of the fact that you made a few mistakes and learned a few lessons as you glance in the mirror and see a face that is no longer young. And you will ask, 'Why didn't I know all this at seventeen?'"

Seventeen doesn't last forever. But neither does forty-seven. I know that the next time I blink, I'll be seventy-seven and looking back thirty years at today. The generations will have once again shifted and I will be the gray headed lady at the dinner table everyone is calling, "Grandma." I'll remember the days when I was forty-seven, and when I was seventeen and I will be ever so glad for those lovely days.

And yet I wouldn't ever choose to go back, because seventy-seven will be a good age. Just like forty-seven is a good age. Just like seventeen was a good age.

In fact, you know what? Every age is a good age. Every age reminds me that I'm still alive, and I still have gifts to give, adventures to experience, pain to bear, joys to treasure.

I am very much aware that the days I'm living now will soon fade and that the calendar leaves will soon fall. I know that in some nostalgic moment down the road, I will look back at this sweetest of all generations when I had Nathan and Sarah's laughter filling the house. I'll think of how I was so aware that the winds of time were blowing harder and stronger and that one day they would blow those children right out my front door and take them to meet the loves of their lives and they would have children of their own and put their feet under their own tables in their own houses.

But happily, beloved children who go away also come back to vist. And the day will come when Nathan and Sarah will bring their own children home; they will sit at our table and look around and say, "I remember when I was seventeen." They will feel sad about it. They will feel happy about it. And then they will count their blessings and hug their mamma and go on living.

But you can't see all that at seventeen. And that's how it should be. One of the things that age carries with it is those kinds of special secrets, imparted only to those who make the journey through a whole lot of years. Nathan and Sarah will arrive at forty-seven and they'll find that it's really not so bad hanging out in the Land of The Middle Aged. And my hope is that by the time they get there, I will have paved a straight path for them, set a good example and helped to make their journey meaningful.

They will discover that in the ongoing reshaping of their lives, each generation will come to be inhabited by new faces, new stories, and new lives. And in the midst of the shifting of the generations, in one of their houses, at one of their tables, someone will have turned seventeen, someone who will be on the brink of the rest of her life.

And a generation's journey will begin again.

13 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Sue G said...

Great post, Becky! Wonderfully written and peppered with the truth and wisdom that comes with the passing of time.

I still see you as a woman on the brink of the rest of her life. Whether you are seventeen or seventy, each day portends the rest of our life, one day at a time. Each morning is a new opportunity, a new beginning.

Life isn't so much about what is ending, although sometimes we perceive it as such. Life is about new beginnings, new chances brought on by new changes.

May all the days of your life be filled with the promise of new beginnings, new chances, new opportunities. For each day is a day the Lord has made and we will be glad and rejoice in it!

Jan Reynolds said...

WOW - this is EXACTLY where I am in my life right now! Just can't believe how fast the years have come and gone... I have a 17 year old daughter that starts college this month and I keep telling her before she knows it, bam, she'll be 50! But I see she doesn't believe me... our secret. Awesome writing Becky!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Becky.


Marysienka said...

Fabulous post! Loved it!


Debbie Couture said...

Very nice Becky. I loved what you wrote. It is so true. And here I sit at 57 and yes I have two wonderful grandchildren and in 10 years I will have a 17 year old granddaughter. I don't know where the time went. I will celebrate my 40th high school class reunion next summer. Hard to believe. It does make you think to live each day well. Thanks for writing it so well, Debbie

Anonymous said...

Awwww...I love this!

Anonymous said...

I have been feeling this exact same way since our 25th wedding anniversary is next month and I remember attending my husband's parents' 25th anniversary and they were OLD! I always remember the saying, "how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are" and I feel late twenties, early thirties. So much so, I often have to ask my children how old I am. Love the post - very well written! L in Alaska

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful, Becky! Your post brought tears to my eyes!

Debbie in Sacramento

THOMBU1 said...

I met my wife the month of in April when she was 17. I was 24 at the time and it was shortly after our frirst dates that we both were sure we were made for each other. She turned 18 in August of that year and we were engaged shortly after that for a November marriage that same year. We have never regretted it for a moment. Gods blessings were all over our relationship, and I can't thank Him enough for it. Oh yes I remember 17. It was a magical number. Love you guys!

Chill said...

You guys are the greatest. Wish all those years hadn't flown by so fast!

Pam D said...

You blinked.. that's what happened, Becky. I'm convinced that if I can just prop my eyelids open with toothpicks and NEVER blink, maybe my boy will stop growing up so fast. Or not. I suppose I have to just keep repeating that line, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life", get up off of my duff, and just LIVE it! hugs....

Anonymous said...

Oh for pete's sake. I'm emotionally fragile today anyway, then I come to your page and read your amazing post and now I'm a soggy mess on the floor. Wait till somebody comes to sop me up.

Love deb

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the glimpse into the future. I'm 17, and I love being reminded to slow down and be content with today.