Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


I cannot claim that I was never in their shoes

In my humble opinion March 3, 2023
Taking turns. It’s the right way to do things. The fair way to do things.
I found myself thinking about this phrase a lot this weekend. In what way does the word “turn” apply? It’s not as if we’re walking in circles…or are we?
I was in the company of two aunts this weekend, now both in their 80s and needing assistance to get around. As I look at them, I remember them in their 50s or 60s, helping take care of my children, going on trips as part of the family.
Near them sit my son and nephew, now in their 30s.
The younger set remind me where I once was; the other where I am heading. 
And I consider my students, ages 14 to 18, and I think how very long ago that was, and how very different my view of the world is from theirs. But I cannot claim I was never there.
Taking turns. 
Youth believes itself to be new and unique, the first of its kind.
It’s only when youth becomes young adulthood that it’s willing to concede a pattern exists.
In our prime, we have no need to consider the pattern. Our parents are healthy and vibrant; constant sources of support. Our children are young and growing, unending supplies of distraction, frustration and fulfillment. But also signals that there is a pattern, and we are part of it.
By middle age, a picture is emerging, like a jigsaw puzzle which has lost its box. By middle age, some of those ahead of us in line have taken the final turn. However saddened we may be by their disappearance, though, we have no choice but to continue forward, navigating a path which has developed some cracks, but remains a pathway nonetheless.
And here we are, all of us, taking turns. Moving through the pattern, down the walkway, at the same time, together. Looking at the same scenery, warmed by the same sun, but miles and miles apart in terms of what we see and feel.
This isn’t sadness that you’re reading. It’s not pessimism. Not anger. Not fear. Not jealousy. Certainly not egoism.
These are the reflections of someone who sat at lunch between the generation ahead of her and the two generations behind her, and so could not miss the message that she is in a queue, taking her turn. Part of a pattern that preceded her and that will go on long after she is gone.
These are the reflections of someone who, craning her neck and peering around the shoulders of those in front of her, can catch a glimpse of that final turn. 
Having seen it changes nothing. It’s not as if I can step aside and let everyone else go in front of me–even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I’m perfectly satisfied to take my turn when my turn comes. Until then, my glimpse forward reminds me I am still on the pathway, still walking beside all these others also finding their way. If it’s my turn to be “experienced,” to be “knowledgeable,” to be “wise,” then I guess that’s what I’d better do. Thank goodness the pathway has provided so many who went ahead of me and provided such excellent examples.


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