Top 'o the morn
July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:45 PM
"Writers are a special breed of people. Writing it down is a journalist's way of keeping valuable information from being lost, especially history - besides providing the writer with stories one wouldn't believe if it hadn't happened to them. We read this week a Seattle Times columnist's thoughts on aging deliberately in her column on real life. She quotes a line from Jenny Joseph's poem: When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat, along with other outrageously wild behavior to make up for the sobriety of her youth!Personally, no matter if we live to be 200, we would never wear purple. Purple is a lovely color for flowers, for plums, for grapes, but it turns us off completely. Have to admit purple looks nice on other folks, but if we had to wear it, a ticket to the bridge would be our next expenditure.Somehow the Golden Years arrived before we had time to plan our lifestyle, and decide what we would wear, what we would say, and how we would participate in the same old world's merry-go-round. Friends say, How are you? and we tell them we wouldn't want to ruin their day by having them listen to what is falling apart, hurting, and is no more. So we say, Fine! I'm just fine. And if you don't like my driving, stay off the sidewalk! As for colors, we have always loved bright colors as well as the gentler hues. Color is a tremendous gift of the Creator, in flowers, sunsets, mountain valleys and peaks, people, and then the rainbow. And not only did He create colors, but eyes to see them.Life is made up of change, a happening that is all too clear to one who has lived on Whidbey Island for the past three-quarters of a century, and seen the changes that have taken place. Especially in the past 10 years.And the sudden arrival of the Golden Years is an excellent example. We have had our share of adversities in our lifetime - physical trials, along with raising a family, and going through the Great Depression. Then there was the work we still love, the newspaper offerings in a small town or towns, and hearing first hand that the public sometimes didn't agree with our thoughts. They still don't. But so what? It's like wearing purple. Either you like it or you don't. Like learning to eat parsnips or staying married. After 50 years, you learn to like 'em or you quit.We remember well our grandmother, who, in the course of her 80-some years, lost her mother at age 3; married a Yankee Civil War vet, raised 10 children, and moved from her Missouri home to a little town on the Skagit River at the top of a hill.Grandma's long silver hair was braided during the day, but she brushed it before she went to bed - a silver sheet that had never known the scissors. We remember the little tie-on checked gingham aprons she wore, and her sunbonnets to shade her failing eyes from the light. But nowhere in Skagit County was there anyone who could whip up a better holiday meal for the 20 people who gathered at Grandma's for a day of feasting. From her morning waffles to the home-made ice cream, from the holiday cookies to the roasted turkey and dressing she exceled, and we never remember her complaining about anything. Her favorite place was on the long back porch, with her little brown Irish pipe, watching the grandchillun play in the backyard swing.Yes, the Golden Years are ostensibly not what they are cracked up to be, but they are real. As real as we care to make them. Change must be accepted, just as Highway 20 into Oak Harbor has emerged from a dusty narrow dirt road; just as the old two-story wooden schoolhouse gave way to a colony of brick and mortar strongholds; and just as the wooded lands logged by settlers became a flying field for the Navy base. Tears won't make it go away; sobbing won't bring back yesterday.How am I? Just fine. Wouldn't want to ruin your day by telling you the truth!Dorothy Neil has gathered and recorded Whidbey Island history for more than 50 years. She is the author of 10 books, including By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came, which chronicle Whidbey life and times."