Maybe it was the rain that had been falling by the tubs full for going on seven weeks. Or maybe it was the season. She’d always felt revved up by the fall and its two big holidays, considering it a time of festive new beginnings. But her family was bad to die right around Christmas, and that’s why she got melancholy and pensive right around Thanksgiving.
Based on her calculations (that were based on her knowledge of her elders), she had approximately 26.25 more good years left, and she’d spent the better part of today wondering how to fill those years when she’d still be able to do things for and by herself. Not that she was one of those stubborn independents who would spend great sums of money to keep from being a burden to their children. She’d already had a couple of conversations with her son, telling him that he could live wherever in the world he wanted to, but when the time came that she needed help, he did not get to just phone his sister to tell her what she was doing wrong and feel like he’d done his part. No siree. He had to step up and show up, period. And she’d written it down in a letter, too, lest he convince himself he’d dreamt that conversation.
Never one to sit around waiting for life to knock on her door, she got out her pen and paper and tried to think of what she wanted to do next. Traveling was fine once she got there, but the getting ready to go was tiring and stressful, and she hated unpacking more than anything. Which is why she usually took all her oldest clothes and just left them in trashcans along the way.
Having been what they call a scanner, interested in a whole bunch of different things, she’d pursued those interests until they weren’t interesting any more. It had been fun while it lasted, but now she couldn’t think of a single thing she wanted to know more about.
She’d never been that nice kind of person who takes in orphans to raise, and she wasn’t about to start now that she finally had some time to call her own.
She already knew how to crochet and knit and quilt, and besides, her fingers were getting arthritic, so that was out.
She’d always loved to read, but her eyesight was failing, so mostly she listened to books now, but some days she couldn’t get the volume loud enough to catch more than every third sentence.
She’s long since been through her gardening phase. She didn’t play in the earth nearly as long as her friends did ’cause she never had – since she was a baby, I tell you – liked getting dirty.
Maybe she could right a regret or three, but she really didn’t have all that many, though she did wish she had spoken her mind more often so her part in the conversation would’ve been something more substantial instead of “I was just about to say that” or “That’s just what I was thinking.”
Yes, her own mortality was weighing heavy on her heart this day. This was a whole lot harder than she’d thought it would be, this planning the rest of your life, and for a minute she considered just going on and moving in with her children right now and calling it quits.
Or at least going on to bed.
But as she doodled, waiting for inspiration to light, she heard the radio man say that a bunch of European scientists had gotten together and decided that in 2033 there was gonna’ come another Ice Age, complete with glaciers and icecaps and everything. That got her thinking about how much she enjoyed those trips to Alaska and Iceland, so she turned to a clean page and used that pen to do some math. When she figured out that 2033 was only 15 years away, she smiled for the first time in I don’t know how long because by her calculations, not only would she be alive in 15 years and get to see the earth freeze over, but she’d have 11.25 years to enjoy the icebergs and blue ice . . . provided she had enough food and batteries and blankets and matches and wood stored up.
Turning to another blank page, she began making her lists, and as she wrote, she began to hum. Having something to look forward to made all the difference in the world.