Dear Me (from 75-year-old me)...

This post was not my idea; it was a suggestion from another blogger in the Intentional Blogging Challenge. Thanks, James. This is indeed a challenge, but one I have been eager to take on. Once I got started writing, I found it hard to stop. I finally finished it late tonight (Monday) and when I hit publish it was after midnight Eastern Standard Time.

As you read this, remember that this is what I HOPE to be saying to my younger self twenty years from now. If any or all of these hopes come to pass, I will be blessed.

Dear 55-year-old Me,

I remember this day (the day you are reading this). You can't wait to see your four grandkids this afternoon after taking care of some exciting business; closing on the condo that is within a few miles of their house. Your home away from home in Nashville is going to host many of your best memories. I know, since I'm reflecting on the days you are now living. And, as you say so often, these are the best days of your life.

I would urge you to savor each moment and take no day for granted. But I see that you are already well aware of how precious time is; how important people and relationships are in life. I'm proud of you for knowing that ... ahead of the curve. John teases you that you have "a firm grasp" on your mortality (rather than simply being "in touch" with it). Well, good news! You're going to make it to 75. But your firm grasp will keep you grateful for every year, which is the best way to grow older. Continue on the path of gratitude. It's become even more rewarding at 75.

You have invested wisely, my dear. I am reaping the harvest of your investment in the lives of others. The love you've tried to pour into family and friends while you were a younger woman is returning to me in abundance. Your grandchildren, nieces and nephews know they are special to you because you looked for ways to show them and tell them from the time they were little. They like you at 75; they don't just love you. They still look forward to hanging out. They don't feel obligated to spend time with you; they want to. This is what you always hoped for. It is my reality.

Oh yeah, we are still taking "girls trips" to the beach and having a blast! Karlie is now 40, Lexi 38, Ashley, 35 and Nicole, 30! They are all beautiful inside and out; they are happy, and you are (no shock here) so proud of them. Your nieces' husbands have never minded their annual trip to the beach with Aunt Shari. You have an extremely close relationship with each of them. And Maddie, who is now 21, started going with us several years ago.
Right now you are still young and healthy for your age, but should that change, you have at least one niece who is an exceptionally gifted and compassionate nurse who promises to look after you if you need her. (I doubt this surprises you. You know who I'm talking about, since she's already on her career path.) The others have not quite figured out what direction they are headed as you read this. So I won't share their future choices with you. Just know they all chose well and are accomplished women in their own right.

Your nephews are healthy and happy. And though you don't take them to the beach annually, (because, hey, it's a girl thing) they know they are no less special to you. It's just a different relationship.

Your munchkins are all in their twenties now! Joshua is approaching 30 and Maddie is in college. Those rehearsal dinners you hoped to be present for in the future? Two of them have already happened and you are a great grandmother! You enjoy a close adult relationship with all of your grandchildren. And you are a devoted Great Grandma Shari. (Now you are 'GG' and I wonder why you ever had a problem with a cutesy name for yourself.) You have made so many amazing memories with each of your munchkins. And calling them munchkins has taken on irony because they are all taller than you in 2034. They know how deeply you love them. And you've made a difference in their lives. Good job, Grandma Shari. Grandma Jane would be so proud!

Back to 2014; I know how much you are looking forward to this Thanksgiving. Although you lost your dad this year, your relationship with your siblings has never been better. There has been so much healing and restoration in the family. You can't wait to have a fun family holiday with your brothers and their families again. You hope it means as much to them as it does to you, and you're pretty sure it does. (Tears are filling your eyes right now.) I am happy to tell you that it only gets better and better from here. Both your siblings are growing older in good health and you've had many good times together over the last twenty years. The wounds of the past have faded into nearly invisible scars that only serve to remind you of how far you've come as a family. The healing you've experienced at 55 has already surpassed your expectations. But you have a lot to look forward to in the next 20 years!

Your relationship with Danny and Rebecca has grown closer with every passing year. You do your best not to give unsolicited advice (slipping occasionally). Your biggest fear is still being a burden. And they assure you that you never will be. Rebecca still says she won't mind taking care of you if you are ever unable to care for yourself. And you know she means it. You've always known. You knew the day Danny married her that she was as much a gift to you as she was to Danny.

You have written two more books for a total of four. You never did try to write fiction. But God has allowed you to touch many lives and you continue to hear from readers you helped by sharing your story. You have never regretted being transparent and vulnerable in your writing. I encourage you to continue, as I know you will.

As the years have progressed, you have regained more of the friends you once thought you had lost. But I can't tell you which ones. At 75, you are completely at peace with the ones you lost -- even though you still love them.

By 75, you're going to be amazed at how much better you are at waiting on God's timing and God's sovereignty over every aspect of your life; especially when it comes to relationships.

Remember when John was diagnosed with chronic leukemia (CLL) in 2007 and your fear of losing him almost crumbled you emotionally for a while? Remember when God spoke to you on your back porch and asked you to trust Him and not "the prognostic markers" for his future? Well, we just celebrated John's 80th birthday with all the family and a few close friends. The drugs that were unproven when he began his clinical trial in 2010 have changed the landscape of CLL and he's a poster child for the successful maintenance of blood cancer. He's doing great (and still seeing Dr. Ian Flinn). I remember how much you wanted to be married to John longer than you were married previously. You passed that goal a few years ago.

At 75, you have been without your mom for close to fifty years. And yet the person you are most looking forward to a long conversation with in heaven STILL is your mom. At 55, you are hoping she would be proud of you if she were here. But at 75, you know she would be.

The icing on the cake of your life is that Marian, John's mom, is still dancing (ever so cautiously) at 102. Her 100th birthday party was a BLAST! She is the coolest Great-Great-GraMarian! But we stopped letting her cook Christmas dinner once she hit 90. 

I remember how thankful you were for your Howerton family from the day you met them. I know you have always loved your brothers and sister by marriage, as well as the additional nieces and nephews you were blessed with through marriage. You'll be happy to know they are all living good lives. You are close in heart, even if you don't get to see them as often as you'd like.

Remember how much you hoped to be a sweet old lady? Well, you are on your way. But you still don't think of yourself as old at 75. You aren't thrilled with your looks. You don't really identify with the woman in the mirror. But you recognize yourself in your smile. Your smile still radiates joy, happiness, and gratitude for your blessings. Congratulations on focusing more on inner beauty than your aging face.

Thank you for all the years you faithfully exercised. That has played an important part in my being a young and healthy 75. And thanks for putting up with the Invisalign teeth straightening this year. I still love having straight teeth and still wear my retainer to preserve the good results.

I realize I am mostly telling you the things you've done right. I don't want to make it sound like you haven't made mistakes between 55 and 75. You have. But you've learned how to show grace to yourself and accept your imperfections as you have matured in your faith and trust in God. Take comfort in knowing He is bringing you along every day in spiritual growth. But the biggest part of that is learning how to trust Him. If I told you everything about the next twenty years, you wouldn't have to develop in faith and trust. And so I wouldn't even if I could...

But you're safe because I'm writing "as if" it were 2034. 

I don't even want to think about how quickly the next twenty years are going to go by. I just want to appreciate every day. Because I don't have to hear from 75-year-old me that every day is a gift.
This I know.


Anonymous said…
I told James I'd write my letter after my November challeng. Your letter is wonderful. I hope it is an accurate predictor!
Shari said…
Thanks, Dee! I look forward to reading yours. :)