Mostly I feel young for my age and hopeful and full of dreams. But I was in my garden last evening deadheading—removing the spent, withered-up flowers. The longer I worked the more vibrant and vigorous the garden became.
That’s what got me to thinking about being retired, and nearing seventy, and my greying hair and cranky knee and eyes that keep needing more light to see. I thought about how I keep losing what I touch. And I remembered that time I stood at the gas pump when the machine asked for my zip code. All kinds of other numbers came to my head—my social security number and the telephone number for my childhood home in Flint, Michigan, and even my grandparents’ number back in the hills of Western Maryland: Twin Oaks 5-5451. If you’re my age, you remember this—telephone numbers starting with words instead of digits. I could recall all these numbers, but not my zip code. Until finally, it came.
It’s good, I thought, as I pinched off the washed-out blooms, that I’m not going back to school this fall. And I pictured younger teachers I knew, who that very evening, were conducting an open house at London Middle School. These teachers remember numbers and walk with a spring. They speak the jargon, know the music, and breeze through the technology. Their clothes are cool and their crankiness better hidden. They’ve just come from college classes where they’ve learned best practices. Their journey is fresh and their outlook unjaded.
Though I knew all this, for a few minutes I felt bereft.
But then I found a happy thought. Those fading flowers I plucked off and dropped into the soil—those flowers are full of seeds.