Remembering the day; and days after….

By Patricia Allwood Hindman

“Going gray” people will never forget the day…or the day after.

Although our memories may fail at times, we “going gray” people will never forget 9/11. We all can recount where we were. We can also agree that we will never forget the days after.

In my case I was teaching in a public school. The science teacher and I both had our planning period that morning. She had her TV on and called me over to see a rerun of the first plane hit one of the towers. We groaned over the “accident” until we saw, in live time, a second plane hit the second tower. It was then, watching from that TV screen, the world started to evolve in slow motion. Two accidents? No. People aboard those planes? Yes. Attack? Yes. Nuclear weapons? Who knew? More attacks? Yes, a hijacked plane was still in the air. Soon, very soon, an announcement came over the loud speaker. Prayer. Public school? Yes. Who cared. Plenty of people weren’t going home tonight to be with their loved ones. We didn’t know if we would. No one knew what would unfold.

It was a horrific day. Hardly a life, unless you lived off the grid in the hills, was not affected. But the second day. And the third. And the fourth. They were uncommon days. Our patriotism rose to fiery levels. We, the huddled masses, stood up. We united. We dare not say “democrat” or “republican.” We were the United States of America. We dare not criticize Hollywood for patriotic shows anymore than we would criticize churches of any denomination doing what they could do in this tragedy. We dare not say “black” or “white;” we were citizens. There were no “they” and “we.” We rose together in a unity that America had not seen since World War II.

9/11 was a terrible day. 9/12 and the days after, however showed how deeply we loved our country. It’s not that we had forgotten that fact; it’s simply that we had taken it for granted. No longer. At least for a time.

Sadly, today, we have to search hard for unity amid political and race and creed divisions. We would like to think that, beneath it all, we realize we are still the United States of America. But are we? Will we be again?

Those who are eternal optimists believe we can come together… someway, somehow. May no catastrophic event happen to prove us right. Right now, we are bickering. We are angry. We are divided. But underneath, we all desire for the United States of America to be connected, to mesh. Our desire, at least the vast majority of Americans, is to integrate, to connect.

We are not naive enough to believe this unity can happen overnight, as in 9/11. We pray we don’t have a cataclysmic event to do so. Perhaps, together, remembering 9/11, we can baby step our way back to 9/12.

What’s It Like to Age?

None is so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
--Henry David Thoreau

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiam.

–Henry David Thoreau

By Patricia Allwood Hindman

What’s it like “going gray?” Aging? Today is a pain day for me. Physical pain. My feet are flaming; my muscles are cramping; and my bones ache. Don’t feel sorry for me. Tomorrow I will be better, and today I have the gift of the present. I still have a purpose in life. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

I am a believer in a hereafter. An amazing hereafter. So why do we “gray” people who begin to wither and believe so staunchly in a great hereafter not just chuck it? Why do we sometimes press harder? After all, we are not ever going to get younger here on earth, and pain, both physical and emotional, will most likely increase. So what keeps us going?

When we “going gray” woke this morning, we were breathing. We got out of bed. We were given, perhaps, one more day. So there are things we can do. There are even things we sense that we are supposed to do.

We can love. I have a 13-year-old grandchild. Remember when you were 13? Life was often cruel; love was often conditional. I can love her unconditionally.

We can create. I’m creating right now in writing this. Hopefully, I’m encouraging some of you to rise above the pain and look for the gain. “Going gray” gives us more time for silence and reflection and more time for acting on our intention.

We can do some things we love. I can still take a walk. It might be painful today, but if I put one foot in front of the other, I can do it. I can write. I can read “Llama Llama Mad at Mama” to a four-year-old. I can smile at people. I can feed a puppy and encourage a friend.

Most of all, we “going gray” people go on because we have been given the great gift of life here in this amazing world. Not everyone has been given the gift of days, weeks, months and years. Since we are still breathing, there is a burning desire to make the most of time. It intensifies each day we live.

Life is a gift. Every day we get to unwrap a new beginning. What unfolds each day is breathtaking nature. Together, we are able, despite our adversities, to speak life and warmth and wisdom into this astonishing world. It’s a matter of getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a matter of walking in gratitude for what we have been given. Today.