Contentment is an elderly lady, grandmotherly type – but old school.
Her favorite place to sit is on her front or back porch in late Spring, early Summer, or anytime in the Fall. Her long chambray skirt stops just above the ankles, she wears a yellow cotton work shirt softened with age and use. Her apron hangs on the hook by the stove, exchanged for a prayer shawl knitted of pastel multi-hued-yarn. Kitteny soft peaches, pinks and lavenders predominate. Its weight around her shoulders enfolds her in the arms of family and faith – even when alone.
She rocks gently outside, sometimes occupying her hands with quilting or mending. Occasionally, she picks up embroidery although her fading eyesight makes detail work more challenging these days. In the summer, she wanders among her flowers. Clipping here, cutting back there, weeding from her perch on a little wooden milking stool. She often hums to herself: old spirituals, tried and true hymns, even snappier jazz favorites from her younger years make their way into the mix. Sometimes, she just listens to the radio or the heavenly strains drifting down from the church choir practicing up the street.
She loves it when the children come to visit; her bloodline always brings joy, but neighborhood descendants as well, the newer ones too – young families full of hope or fear, sometimes both. They represent such hope and promise. A smile kisses her face as she watches them playing in the field, the park, or the postage-stamp front yards.
In social circles, she’s quiet more often than not; listening, nodding, smiling or tsk-tsking as the occasion warrants. She rarely complains of the aches and ailments of growing old – not as the other ladies do. But, she’s happy to listen and agree or sometimes share advice and send one off with a home-baked remedy always at least 75% love.
She’s lonely at times to be truthful. Hurting at times too. Somehow, it doesn’t seem worthy of mention. Truisms are always true whether voiced or not. Having a voice and being heard doesn’t seem as important as it once was. She’s lived and done most everything she ever imagined. Some endeavors were great successes, others spectacularly less so. She’s learned something from all of them. And the stories they’ve given her to share are absolute jewels for the special people who ever really take the time to listen.
Yes, life is life. Mostly it’s been good to her, even in its troubles. But troubles are just a part – requiring only that you make it through them. Having companions along the way always makes the struggle easier. Nowadays, she wonders how people do it. So busy. So tech-y. How do they ever really connect? Without that reality of face-to-face, side-by-side living, she wonders how people know whom to turn to when things are less than ideal. Although her circle has often been on the smaller side, there’s usually at least one to pat a hand, dry tears, and sing or pray together. She hopes her offspring won’t lose that. Not completely.
As the sun dips behind the mountains, she slows her rocker, sighs and pushes herself to her feet. Inside, she brews a cup of tea, turns on a lamp, and sits down to read an Agatha Christie novel since it isn’t quite late enough for bed.
It’s simple, her life, but it’s cozy too. Like the old patchwork quilt covering her knees in the armchair. Each block tells a story, each stitch shows a labor of love and friendship. The whole creates a mosaic – homespun, but true.