In the late 50’s and through the 60’s I was one of those girls who really loved sports. Basketball was my favorite and I spent hours playing with friends as well as on teams. I was decent, not great, but I delighted in the teamwork, the exertion and the surprises of play. In junior high I had my first coach, Charlie Johnson. Coach Johnson was a taskmaster and we respected him for it. To warm up for practice he would have us run laps around the gym. Each day it seemed the number of laps grew, but the instructions for the final lap were always, “Now give it all you’ve got!” I would join the other girls as we dug deeper for the burst energy required for last trip around the hardwoods. Sure we were girls, but we were expected to sweat and hustle. There was something about that expectation that called forth the warrior in this otherwise mild-mannered girl. I learned about faking, throwing elbows and taking my licks. But it always began with running laps.
The last few years I have been running laps around my life, metaphorically of course, since the knees and back aren’t what they once were. I’ve looked at the past from different angles. I have approached old wounds and found healing. I have smiled at mistakes and personal quirks that once felt shameful and in them have discovered strength. I have yearned to reconnect with playmates of old. I’ve studied pictures of family who have finished this earthly journey as well as snapshots from my life. Inviting memory I have reflected and written, hoping my stories will reflect to my kids and grandkids the flavor of our family. When I shared this life review process with a friend, she said, “It sounds like you are winding down”.
That comment gnawed at the back of my neck all day. Today is my birthday. I am 63 and I’ll admit there is a sense of the limit of time. When I consider the idea of closing chapters and winding down, however, Coach Johnson and his laps come to mind. These are my later years, but the past seems like a warm-up for what is to come. Juxtaposed against a youth-obsessed culture this ol’ girl is ready to dig deeper for what the game brings next. Older and slower for sure but I’m still able to hustle, sweat, throw a few elbows and give it all I’ve got. Happy Birthday to me!