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High time (05/09/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Does anybody know what time it is? Does anybody really care? The first day of the rest of one’s life is neatly broken into hours, minutes, and seconds. Have I just begun or am I nearly over? No one knows from one blink of an eye to another what the future has in store for any of us.

“High” times have devastated parents whose bank accounts have been squandered by their college kids for foolishness and partying, rather than to partake of the brain food laid out before them. The universe can only hang onto the hope that enough young adults will begin to see beyond the foot ends of vagrant beds, the bottom of a bottle, and ruinous dangers of drugs.

Every generation sports their personal “good old days,” when they had “the time of their lives,” or suffered through “hard times.” I believe in today’s youngest generation to set the pace for future sojourners, who will likely be born into a world where natural resources have been nearly depleted, land poorly maintained and drained of all its richness, littered and neglected.

They will be wiser, having learned from their predecessors’ gluttonous consumerism and greedy ecological destruction. Generations springing forth from this proceeding millennium will no doubt be thriftier, having been left with overflowing landfills and all the worthless stuff left behind. As responsible, earth-oriented stewards, their lifestyles may well be more simplistic, peace seeking, naturally “green,” and globally savvy.

At sixty-something, Pat and I are pleasantly retired, which does not signify that one is no longer a participant in living. I love where I am in life! It’s the peace that comes from giving oneself permission to say “no.” It’s nodding off in a deck chair blanketed in a breeze scented by someone else’s flower garden. Lists dictating precise schedules shall no longer rule the roost.

Life swirls in circles around my aching bag of bones. Every day I witness “get ‘er done gals.” They are the bustling, multitasking, volunteering, and breathless working moms, who clip coupons to grocery shop, and do garage sales for kids’ stuff. Through

whirlwind schedules, I remind Kelly and Christie that now is the time to pause to delight in life – the big NOW!

My neighbor Sheila’s daycare is such a joy for me! Children high on life - I can peek at them and savor their little voices through our east windows as they flit from one game to another! Their delightful shrieks and giggles take me back many years.

Did I do all that too? Yes, and the world stops for nobody to catch-up! When did I take my nap? Duh! How did I fit in my morning and afternoon tea times? Okay, so I,too, was multitasking long before the word was ever used.

Is one set of accomplishments any less important than another? What do we do if we don’t play tag with children at the park, get on a ladder and wash windows, or delve into elbow grease anymore? Might I be so bold as to say, we do all we can.

Following the empty nest syndrome, retirement, loss of parents and other close relatives and friends, I find myself reaching for briefer destinations, establishing goals based on what I can do and not on what I cannot do. Quality time with family is doled out in more carefully planned, weighed out offerings.

The late Mel Ellis, in one of his enlightening and observant nature books, “The Land, Always The Land,” wrote this before the latter 1990s: “The family has formed the bedrock of all civilizations, and it is when the world’s adults start working primarily for themselves, instead of their children, that society seems threatened.”

To all past, present, and future female nurturers, who have not and will not disgrace the crucial role of motherhood, it’s high time for society to recognize the sacrifices, TLC, and compassionate influence radiated from your presence everywhere.

Janet Burns is an “on-call” grandma and a part-time cookie baker. She can be reached at




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