In life, there is only one true ending, all others are but transitions to new beginnings.
Living, from the moment we are thrust into the world becomes a series of doors, closing (endings), and opening (beginnings).
The first closing comes at our expulsion from the womb. That phase of development is complete and final. The door shuts tight, no re-entry allowed.
At that instant, we must take that first breath to send us through the open door called life to begin that continuous task of learning how to adapt to ever-changing locks and keys so we may survive.
One door leads to another, and generally we can’t reach a particular door until we’ve gone through another.
The infant can’t learn to chew until it has suckled, or walk before standing, or become an independent being before learning to control and coordinate all mental and physical functions.
Going up the ladder from elementary school to junior high, to high school and college may seem simply a continuation of studies, but at each step we start afresh with new teachers, new subjects, classmates, competition, attitudes, social pressures, and problems. That means having to accept change and make adjustments.
Getting married closes the door on singlehood. Being divorced doesn’t put one back to the same singlehood. It will be different. Widowhood is equally different.
Changing jobs, retiring, coming into money, losing money, an illness, an accident, all create whole new situations, needing new rules, new planning.
Sometimes, an opening or closing is so subtle we are unaware of the change. Sometimes it’s obvious. Or it’s so unexpected, we are caught short, and end up floundering around for a while. Or too many close or open at the same time, we are overwhelmed. Or hold a door open too long, we find it difficult to let go. Or let go too soon, and we are not ready. Or there is no new door to open, and we are stuck behind the old one.
Yet, for seniors in particular, as the years advance, and there are fewer and fewer new doors to open, we must hold tight to keep old doors from slamming shut. We mustn’t let go of too many activities, and interests, even if need to jam a foot into the doorway to keep it open.
Each opening and closing, beginning, and ending, contributes something to what we must learn in order to exist. Each offers challenges and opportunities, another chance or problem to solve.
For better or worse, that is life.
My grandmother, Rose, passed away in her Burbank bungalow, a month after her 90’s birthday. Her husband, Morris, died 13 months later, in the same bed he’d shared with his wife for over 60 years. Together, they’re opened and closed numerous doors, life in New York, and then Southern California, austerity during World War II, contentment after retirement, adventure in travels, sorrow from disappointments and deaths, and joy from children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
They lived a pleasant life. Throughout their marriage, my grandfather worked as a taxi driver, chauffeur, car salesman, and eventually an assembler at Lockheed. He retired with a pension, which afforded them an opportunity to travel to across the United States, Israel, Japan, and other far-flung places. For most of their lives, they lived in a tidy bungalow in Burbank with a vegetable garden in the back, Meyer lemon tree by their bedroom window, and hibiscus bush in the front.
While on the outside my grandmother appeared happy with her life, she felt a disappointment of having never gotten her work published. She was a dedicated, determined writer, who left several boxes of her work, some of it written on the backs of form letters, scrapes of paper, loose-leaf notebooks, and small flipbooks.
If she’s looking down, I hope she’s pleased that her writing is finally getting an audience!