When I was in my early teens, I dreamed of being Scarlett Ohara with her tiny waist and high tester bed and multiple suitors vying for my hand, and actually I got both the tester bed and the suitors in good time. Then I got the only thing I’d ever really wanted…a husband and babies of my own.
I coped with this much better, and with a whole lot less help, than Miss Scarlett. In my own mind, I knew plenty about “birthin’ babies”. (For those of you who are wondering about these references, they are from Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind”, a favorite of many of us southern pre-boomer types both in print and on the big screen.)
Then that part of the story ended. When Sarah left for college, she wisely advised me, “Mama, you better find something to do, or you’ll go crazy out here.” Here being the house on twelve acres of woods about twenty miles outside Memphis. It was a beautiful house, and I should have been totally content. It wasn’t Tara, but it was wonderful, except that it wasn’t.
Things change. That big house gradually emptied except for the family gatherings, and these became less frequent for a while. The girls grew older and traveled the world and eventually settled down with new families. This is life as it's meant to be, and I was thrilled to see it unfold, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a bit confusing at times. Actually, it still is.
Through the years, I had been fortunate enough to choose to be a full time mother, my only dream from the time I was about seven or so, but for a time my services obviously weren’t needed. I was essentially laid off from the only job I’d ever loved and seemed to be really good at.
I found something to do. I was offered a job and worked a year or so part time, but I knew I wasn’t interested in doing what I was doing forever, so I decided to go back to graduate school. This worked out well, with the new people in my life helping to cover up the isolation I felt in the country. I graduated at age fifty four and was offered another job by one of my classmates. My husband and I built another house, this time back in the city. Then the grandbabies started to come and my aging parents became ill, and suddenly everybody needed me.
Now, my parents are both gone, the grandchildren are mostly in school, and I am once again rattling around in a big house wondering what’s next. Tonight it will be a sleepover with three of my grandsons and chinese take out. For now, just hoping no one gets hurt or goes home hungry is enough, but it's not really a dream...or is it?
I wonder whether I have a real dream left inside me. I hope I do, and that I’ll find it. In the meantime, I can be content that all my dreams came true...at least so far.