By Ann Maxwell
I turned 50 last month.
And, honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it. I don’t really feel that old. I actually feel grateful. My 40s got a bit rocky midway through the decade and after a lot of soul searching, a new career, and the kind of perspective that can only come with, well, 50 years, I am simply thankful and happy to be here.
Life’s experiences definitely contributed to my “50 is fun” attitude, but I have to give credit where credit is due.
She was a 50-something and had recently retired from a teaching career when she first entered my life. Unfortunately, she was also a 50-something when she left my life. I only had four years of knowing her, but her impact on my life is timeless.
I can tell you many things about Karen. She was selfless, kind, and encouraging. The type of person who was always there to support you, to listen, or to lift you up when you needed it most. She was a loving sister, loyal friend, beloved wife and mother - and was just starting to be the most attentive and doting grandmother.
NEW BOOK RELEASE!! Faith in Extraordinary Times
I wish there were many more things I would have had the gift of time to discover about her before her birthdays ended. But the best thing I can tell you about her is that while she loved making things as nice as possible, she didn’t wait for things to be perfect.
Let me put it another way.
I recently stumbled across the following thought: “To trust God’s timing, you must praise Him in all times.”
And once again, my thoughts turned toward Karen.
When we were expecting our oldest daughter and the only grandchild she would enjoy in this life, Karen received a diagnosis of breast cancer. She called me a couple of weeks later with one message: her cancer was not going to overshadow her joy about her first grandchild.
And, true to form, it didn’t.
Instead of discussing her surgery and upcoming chemotherapy, she helped select nursery decorations, sewed curtains, and stitched together soft receiving blankets with darling designs.
The day she met our newborn Abbie, she was on her way to an oncology visit. She stopped by the hospital to cradle her granddaughter without one word about the appointment, upcoming treatments or prognosis. Instead, she watched with a huge smile as she handed me a beautifully wrapped present she had stopped to purchase after her meeting with the doctor. It was evident the boy mother in her had been waiting for years to buy the pink, frilly frock that was within.
I know in the back of our minds, there were clouds of doubt and uncertainty about her illness. But that day, she only saw the light of a newborn granddaughter, the hope that comes only with new life. Her joy of the moment was certain, even though the road ahead was not promised.
She didn’t wait for the perfect moment. She knew that in this world, not only was that not attainable, it wasn’t even a factor. We have to embrace what’s here, what’s now, and make it our goal to enjoy the messy, imperfect parts and create our own joy.
I’m holding to this thought as my new decade begins. There's a lot I’d like to change in my journey to this point, but that's ok. My life isn’t perfect. It never was. It never will be. I've had challenges before, I'll have them again. Things will come together, things will fall apart. And yet, throughout it all, I plan to do my best to find joy, no matter what lies ahead.
I have a feeling another 50-something I once knew would approve.
Ann is the author of two books:
Her NEW book: Grace in Extraordinary Times
Her previous book: Grace in Ordinary Time
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Photo Credit: Heimerman Photography