Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: Twilight? (i)
By Margaret Villanueva
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My scooter putt-putts its way to the entrance to the Sabino Canyon National Park. I never thought that I’d enjoy living in the desert, but I do. I love the desert lifestyle. I no longer dye my hair or wear makeup. I’ve become one of those “nature grannies” that I used to make fun of! But I long ago decided that grey is a perfectly nice color for my hair. It suits me. My mother-in-law used to say “Las canas te sirven”—Grey hair does you well. I agree. I sometimes look in the mirror and see a battle-hardened old woman, wrinkled and worn, but smiling and proud to be who she is. It is never too late to realize that you are what the years have made of you, and my years have made me strong and self-reliant.
Walking along the beautiful canyon, I look to my left and right. Some people would see nothing but shrubs and cacti, with jutting facades of stone enclosing you like a cage. I have learned to see the beauty in the majestic Saguaros. It takes thirty years for a Saguaro cactus to go from a barrel-shape to the cactus that we know from Road Runner cartoons—the green arms pointing up to God. I sometimes see myself as a Saguaro. It took me many years to reach up to God, but I can’t imagine not doing so now. I pat the water bottle in its holster on my belt and smile. God and water—what else do I need? Beauty, joy, and love—and I find all these in the Lord.
My hike finished, I hop on the scooter and putt-putt home. My Pug dog and grey cat wait for me, and I am content. I think back to the girl that I once was. I was never considered beautiful, and that wounded me. However, one man saw the beauty that lay beneath, and he married me. He died much too soon and left me alone—even with a houseful of children, you are never so alone as in those months and years following the death of a spouse. But year followed year, and I learned to cope. Coping with solitude slowly turned to loving independence. Today, I can’t imagine having someone else in my life day after day, sharing decisions and compromising on plans. I am glad for the others in my circle that are two, but I am happy being one.
Today I will go to church and work with the committee that I chair—Living the Twilight Years. We are a group of women and men—some as young as 55, others in their 80s, one who is proud to make it to 95—who are in different stages of learning that there is still life after retirement. We work together as a team to share and enjoy what gifts God has given us. We help those who are dismayed to find that they didn’t plan prudently for retirement. We grieve with those whose family has been reduced through death. We exult with those who find new roads to travel in these years—we have many budding authors and artists in our midst. Our committee is working up a schedule for the coming year. I get excited just thinking about it—art exhibits, trips to Mexico to help build houses, a weekend getaway to San Diego, a trip to Los Angeles to see a musical at the Pantages. The list goes on and on, and we help those whose income doesn’t allow for this type of entertainment. My twilight years aren’t what I’d hoped they’d be as a young girl—growing old together with a wonderful man and doting grandchildren on my knee, but they’re my golden years, and I relish them.
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