Memories serve to help us age well

My thumbs hurt. I hate to complain but they hurt, almost all the time, and I think if I ate more green vegetables, they would hurt less.
And though that seems an easy enough remedy to incorporate into my daily schedule, I don’t seem able to master the excessive use of vegetables in my diet.
So my thumbs continue to hurt and I continue to wince and complain, and my jaw and neck join the party. I think my knees are waiting, ready to pounce, waiting for the day when I might say, “I don’t feel that old today.”
I recently heard a man say of a woman that she hasn’t aged well. After he picked himself off the floor, I asked him what does that even mean and why does that ever have to be part of a conversation. Aging well only requires we wake up in the morning and keep breathing through the day.
It was a sexist comment, too, from which I haven’t quite recovered and we don’t need that kind of thing, any of us, men or women.
I have safely locked up images of my childhood friends in my heart so that when I see them now at our ripe age, possibly past our “best before” date, those images of our perfectly imperfect selves doing amazingly ordinary things is what I see.
And it matters not that we have loose skin below our chins and in the crook of our arms, and thinning hair and whatever the other rewards are for lasting this long.
For example, when I see a comment from Anne on Facebook, I immediately see we two skinny 14-year-olds practising front handsprings and back handsprings and imagining we are Olympic-worthy gymnasts.
When I think of Lori, she is sailing over the high jump bar at the district track-and-field meet at J.W. Walker when we were in Grade 8.
I hear Micaela’s wonderful giggle from the desk behind me in home room and Susan’s absolutely fabulous hair across from me. I see Dawn and Leah laughing, heads thrown back with the most delicious laughs you will ever encounter.
Duane is playing with his “Secret Sam” spy kit. Michael and Leanne are left-handed and their writing is perfect. Earl is riding at the speed of light on “Prince.” And it goes without saying that Doug and Blair are atop their mighty steeds, “Stormy” and “Rock.”
The list of memories is a very long one and I wander through it regularly, enjoying the view and without fail, each memory warms me through and through.
I sometimes sit and write one memory for each person I can remember from my childhood. Tyler’s dimples. Sherry’s white blonde hair tied in two braids. I never run out of images and I almost always circle back to Jim and Billy with their guitars and how that perfect sound always takes me home.
There have been old photos from Muskie football games appearing on the “You Grew Up in Fort Frances” Facebook page and photos from the 1994 high school reunion. What a riot trying to find people you recognize.
It’s wonderful to capture those moments in time when we had absolutely everything we needed in life.
wendistewart@live.ca

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