A guy on a local TV station cruises down U.S. Highway 101 in a clunky old Buick pointing out one hundred and one milestones. Milestones seem to happen for people every day. Here are a few of mine that seem to happen faster and faster as I get older.
Tonight as I attempted to remove the cork from a nice bottle of wine, a milestone I must now claim as my own jumped up and said, “Hello, old woman.” The damned cork would not move. My hands are weak. This is a new and hateful consequence of growing old. It took 20 minutes to pry that nasty cork from the bottle. I’d like to say that the wine tasted sweeter for the effort, but the fact is that by the time the cork was out, I poured a big glass, and drank it like a desert traveler.
Wine drenched musings of milestones that have marked my path followed: My white gloves and purse, clutched tight on my first trip on the train by myself. Dad giving me the keys to the car without having to beg for them. Getting out of high school and leaving home was a big deal, as was cashing my first paycheck…$64.55 every two weeks. And, I can still see Walter Cronkite removing his big black glasses as he told me JFK was dead.
Signing my name as Mrs. Somebody was a surreal milestone during a time when surreal was the norm.
For some women giving birth is a major milestone. Mine was not the birth, but the selfish realization that I now had to consider someone else before I could take care of my most basic bodily functions. Moments and memories come in marriage and parenthood everyday, but when your kid is tall enough to reach the light switch, that’s a milestone in my book.
When I said “I do” and signed I don’t, each was a relief on a multitude of levels, but neither was a milestone of huge significance. Signing I owe on a thirty year mortgage, due when I turn ninety-five was a pretty damned serious milestone.
For the next twenty years milestones were marked by my daughter: The first day of school, tying her own shoes, the loss of a beloved teddy bear to the washing machine, a prom date, her first love, and the last entry I made in her baby book. The day she left home as I wandered the aisles of the grocery store, I realized what a milestone it truly was for me. Caught between tears and laughter, I shopped for things I knew she loved only to remember that she was no longer at home; I could buy whatever I wanted!
One of the most significant milestones was delivered in August of 2002, the day my first granddaughter was born. I am now a grandmother to three darling girls marking milestones for me everyday.
As I slip and slide toward the end and the beginning, age adds more stones marking my passage.
Actually exercising, instead of thinking about it, is a big deal. It’s right up there with Medicare, the E-ticket of milestones. There’s that pesky cork, the back spasm from bending over to tie my shoes, and the box with little places for pills everyday of the week that keeps getting bigger. I read the obits and do the crosswords. This combination just may be one of those shared milestones along the Old Road. The skin on my body no longer looks familiar, there are reading glasses everywhere, but I still can’t see unless it’s big print. Loosing cherished friends and meeting new people, with whom I realize I’ll have a short history seems like it should be important, but only frightens me.
Maybe milestones seem smaller and more frequent because I keep tripping over them. I don’t know anymore, and don’t care much when it comes right down to it. Because as Gilda Radner once said, “It’s always something.”
(Patti Stammer has lived in Humboldt County since 1966 graduating from HSU with a degree in Art with graduate studies in photography and film. She has been self employed most of those years, teaching photography for 12 years at Foothill College in the Bay Area, for HSU and CR, until starting an import business in the 1980’s to pay for traveling. In 1992 she began a new career scouting locations on the Northcoast and Southern Oregon for film production. In 2009, she began writing stories about her life and adventures. Some of her stories and articles have been published, but mainly she writes for fun and for family and friends. )