Ovella and I lived across the street from each other when we were in our early years of elementary school back in the 1970s. I thought of her as the sister I never had but always wanted. We went through the cafeteria line together just about every day, so we could say hello to her mom, Betty, who made THE best hot rolls the world has ever known. Probably still does. We sat side-by-side in our third grade class photo. I secretly hurt when I knew that the boy I had a crush on in fifth grade really liked her… but I couldn’t be mad at her for that. One Saturday, we rode in the back of her dad’s truck to the lake…and proceeded to get the sun burns of the century.
As we entered high school, our lives began to take different paths; although I felt she was much more outgoing and popular than I ever hoped to be at that age, Ovella always remained a close friend. We went on several trips together while in college — to the beach and to her boyfriend’s (now husband’s) fraternity Halloween party at NC State. And we were there for Prince’s “Purple Rain” concert tour in 1984. As she moved away with her family, I remained here in our hometown. We managed to keep in touch sporadically over the years, and about five or six years ago (maybe more-the mind’s a bit fuzzy), we reconnected through Facebook. I was completely amazed at her life since we last spoke. The kids! And the same husband after all these years! How’d she do it?
Suffice it to say that there are some friendships that time, life, and distance can never fade. Even though we haven’t seen each other in probably 20 years, I still feel as if she’s my sister of sorts. Especially now that we are arriving at “this age”.
Well, I’ll shut up now and let her tell her story. Thanks for sharing, Ovella.
I have to admit, turning fifty did a number on me. I have never been one to be caught up with age but for some reason the BIG 5-O got to me! My mind kept wandering back to the fact. “I’m probably over half way through my life.” I didn’t really like that thought.
For me, my natural response was to reflect over my first fifty years. Let me give you a picture of my earlier years. I married young, right out of college, at age 22 to my high school sweetheart. (Sappy, I know.) Mark and I started our family when I was 24. We strolled through the first years of marriage with him going to grad school, getting a job in the real world, moving and adding to our family. I stayed home with the kids and I couldn’t have imagined doing it any other way. I loved being a wife and mom. I had planned on only having two kids and being finished by age thirty. Well, I am the poster child for “things don’t always turn out the way you’ve planned!” At age thirty-one kiddo number three came along, at age 34 kiddo number four joined us and…now brace yourself…at age forty-one number five completed our family. How does the old saying go, “best laid plans…”?
Needless to say, a lot of my identity was tied up in being a wife and mom. When the majority of your life has been spent being pregnant, nursing and taking care of little ones, it’s easy to lose yourself. I suppose I did a little. I went from being Ovella to being Mark’s wife or Luke, Emily, Jacob, Stone or Ruby’s mom. But you know, I really was still in there all the time. I saw myself in each of my kids. Each one so different but carrying a little bit of me. I had the opportunity to pour into five wonderful children. I’ve been able to watch my older kids find their own identity, grow with confidence and discover their passions in life. And I am excited to see what the future holds for my younger kids. I have a marriage that has grown better and better each year. As much as we’ve grown together (and alike), we have also encouraged each other to step into our individual destinies. Life is good!
Over the years, in addition to taking care of my family, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor numerous women, helping them with their own marriages, kids and personal lives. I’m also a doula and have been a part of many beautiful births and a few difficult ones. But even the difficult ones have been so meaningful as I’ve seen the strength of a mom and dad at the loss of their child. To support them through their grief and sadness is a task no one desires, but an honor to share.
I’ll admit, when I look in the mirror, I’m not so sure I recognize the woman looking back at me. I’d like to say the extra weight, sagging body parts and greying hair are badges of honor, but I can’t quite convince myself of that. But what I do know is that I really do LOVE my life, my husband and my kids. I’m really looking forward to the next fifty years…years filled with adventure, excitement and discovering new things about myself.