LOUISE: Dancing Through the Decades

With August bringing a birthday my way, I started thinking about long ago celebrations. Suddenly, my mind was dancing through the decades.

My first ten years were blissfully happy. Fun, childhood years on a farm, exploring creeks, pastures, junkyards and playing hide-and-seek in the hay barn. Although I didn’t have birthday parties—unless you count my five siblings—Mama always baked a cake and spelled HAPPY BIRTHDAY on it using a toothpick dipped in colored icing. A blessed time!

The second decade of my life brought “more changes than you could shake a stick at,” as my daddy would say. Teen years are tender. Everything changes, including boyfriends. I met Carl Jones when I was 18 years old and already engaged to my high school sweetheart. Some months later, I broke up with my fiancée, began dating Carl then married him at 20 years old. Sweet!

Dancing FeetAh, the twenties, those young adult years when I was teaching school, having babies and learning about life. It was night school for Carl since his college education was interrupted by the U.S. Army. Then tragedy struck. Our son, Travis, died unexpectedly at nearly three months old. Youthful innocence gone forever.

Then came my thirties. Start to finish, a great decade. I gave birth to our last baby at 30 years old and had my best birthday ever at 39 with a trip to Hawaii. These years were about working hard, raising children and teaching them our beliefs and values.

I was surprised when the forties rolled around. Could I really be that age? Time was definitely moving faster. During those years my oldest son graduated from college and my daughter made me a grandmother. Impossible!

Then alas, here came the fifties. Oh my, not ready for that. I distinctly remember sitting on the sofa beside my husband till almost midnight then quickly begging, “Ask me how old I am!” It would be the last time I could truthfully say I was 49 years old. Suddenly, I was 50 with all its grit and glory. This decade brought five surgeries my way!

So now here I am, sliding through my sixties and wondering how life moved so quickly. Carl and I had looked forward to these retirement years. We were going to lounge on the beach in Florida, sit on the deck of a vacation home in the hills of Arkansas and travel by motor home to any number of places. But instead, I am alone. Who would have guessed that in the middle of this decade my husband of 45 years would suddenly slip out of this life and into heaven? I thought we had at least 20 more years together.

So now I ponder each birthday and wonder what the next decade will bring. Time speeds up. Years slip by and I want them to wait. To linger. I want time to meditate on all the good things in life. Time to list the gratitude of today instead of the pain of yesterday or worries of tomorrow. Time to forgive myself and others for any past mistakes. Time to recall all the sacred moments when God wrote love notes on my heart. Time to cherish life and love right now—in the present— because today is all that’s promised.

I’m guessing you may feel the same. So today let’s dance through the beautiful memories of past decades and make new remembrances for the future. Not only will life be richer and happier for you and me, but also for those around us. Wishing you a Happy Birthday, no matter the date!

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