Our last wheel barrel was well used and over twenty years old.
It was big and bright red. When Howard took it to the dump a couple of weeks ago it was time. Wooden handles were split, the flat tire cracked and frankly just looking sad, its bottom rusted with age. It had been turned upside down and placed in a spot hidden out of sight under a pine tree in the backyard. Forgotten.
One day last week Howard called me saying he was stopping at a hardware store, on his way home, to buy a new wheel barrel. That evening over dinner Howard told me “This will probably be my last wheel barrel. I am no longer a wheel barrel man.”
You see this post isn’t about the new, green wheel barrel.
The wheel barrel is symbolic of something I have been thinking about for a while now. Something deeper. I have been thinking lately about the passage of life, the time we have left, our lives together and how to put into words my feelings.
So when Howard was speaking about the wheel barrel, I realized I could use it as a symbol. I don’t know exactly what he meant, but I can guess his meaning and that being, I am getting to a stage in my life where I can’t use a wheel barrel like I once did when I was much younger and stronger.
Don’t we all feel it some days and sense the urgency?
I have recently started thinking of my life in “thirds” of years, why I really don’t know.
Maybe it is just easy. This August we will be married thirty-eight years; happy and productive years. We were 29 and 22 on our wedding day in 1975. This year we will celebrate our 67th and 60th birthdays. Yet, no real reason for my sense of urgency.
We were both raised in Louisiana and spent, our first third, give or take a few years, there. Growing up, family, friends, school, working, marriage, building a home. All the normal life experiences. All wonderful!
In January of 1986, we moved from Louisiana to Colorado, because we wanted to, there wasn’t any other reason. A life in the West enjoying the outdoors. Joy! A Dream! I was 33 at the time of this move and entering the second “third” of my life.
It was a life changing and difficult decision, leaving our family and friends and a way of life we were comfortable with. The move was adventurous and exciting and probably a shock to most. Not like us they said. Maybe to some, but to us it was the right decision. During our time here in Colorado, came more school, building of careers, enjoyable time spent in nature, a few vacations mostly back south to visit family and friends. We developed treasured friendships. A lovely life!
In 2006 came another life changing event – retirement.
Retirement brought freedom, travel, more enjoyment of hobbies new and old, RV’ing, new friends and more time to spend with old, dear friends and it also brought a relaxed, peaceful state of mind. Except for my in the back of mind thought of getting older and an urgency. An urgency to do what?
So, now twenty-seven years later, I am quickly entering the final “third” of life. No guarantees here right. Who is lucky enough to live an enjoyable life into their nineties.
So this post now gets to the heart of what it is about. The burning knowledge and needed acceptance we are entering our final years, in my strange way of looking at the years. I have no doubt Howard and I will be together. We truly love and respect each other. How much time do we have left together? How much longer will we both have our good health? How long can we continue to travel in our motorhome? Where will we spend our days? What will we be doing.
There is a chance that someday we might move from our lovely try-level home on the hill. Won’t be able to or won’t want to, go up and down in the house and up and down in the multilevel yard. Won’t be able to push that wheel barrel up the hill when needed.
Do we leave our beloved west and go back south (our roots), do we head southwest, do we move to a single level home here in our hometown. Many important questions and currently no answers.
The answers to all these questions will one day resolve themselves. I guess getting to these answers is the ultimate joy of life. They don’t need to be make in a hurriedly fashion. Why the urgency, I now ask myself. They need to be made, after plenty discussion and with both our desires in mind.
The ultimate joy of life….
Living it, experiencing it, embracing and enjoying the unexpected, the anticipation of what’s to come. The next phase of our life together will be just as much an adventure as when we began all our other adventures. We will enter it just as much in love with each other and more then when we started of life together.
What matters is being together, enjoying life, being happy where we are, having things to be passionate about, living life to its fullest everyday. We can plan our future as any wise person would do, but hey we don’t need to dwell on it. There’s no hurry!
This is my lesson learned, my enlightened understanding, my resolve and my peace, knowing it will all work out just fine. No urgency. Thank you wheel barrel for your symbolism. It is okay if I am the only one that understands this.
I will, he will, we will – enjoy life, enjoy each other and live everyday to the fullest.
Let me close with a note about Howard and his new, shiny, green wheel barrel. Yesterday he spent the day working on his project. At the end of the day he was tired, had an expression of accomplishment on his face and he was happy. Many more hours until his project is finished and many more days for me to see his joy living life.