“And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?
At first blush, I would say “No,” I’m not living happily ever after. At least not what I’ve always thought of as being happily ever after. I had been led to believe that happily ever after meant that I would be married to my college sweetheart and that we would be now be retired and living comfortably in our retired years together. That dream died when my daughter was two years old and my college sweetheart husband walked out on us after an affair with a softball groupie.
Then I thought, in midlife, that happily ever after would be life with my new husband who was older than me but who professed to love me absolutely. I moved from New York to Texas to marry him and uprooted my entire life to be with him. We were married for ten years, and it was not easy. He was a strange man, but I was committed to sticking it out, since I took my marriage vows seriously. He apparently did not, since he had divorced three wives before me and then suddenly divorced me. At age 54, I found myself single again. This was not happily ever after.
I found myself retired, on disability. Now, nearly ten years later, I ask myself, am I living happily ever after and if not, what should I do to live happily ever after. And after thinking about it for awhile, I have decided that I am living happily ever after. I am independent. I live on my own, in my townhome which I have rented for the past four years in a very nice complex. I volunteer once a week at an elementary school to help a second-grader learn to read. My second-grader started out not very interested in reading but has become more and more involved in the reading process as we play games with words and write sentences about stories we read together and he even reads stories himself now. I am a CASA advocate and a Peer Coordinator for CASA. CASA stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate for children, and we advocates represent abused and neglected children in their cases in Family Court. I have one case and I supervise three other advocates and their cases. I am passionate about my work with CASA. It is very rewarding. Both my volunteer jobs give my life meaning, and I can’t imagine my life without them.
I am also free to pursue things I want to do, such as hobbies and learning. I am studying French through Rosetta Stone™ and other methods of learning. I learned French back when I was in high school and I want to relearn it to the point where I am fluent again. I can pursue that goal again. I can also make mosaics, which I learned that i love to do several years ago. I knit, which I find is very relaxing. I love to read and I read anything and everything. I have a Kindle Fire™ and I adore it. I devour books on my ereader and even have some non-reading apps on the Fire, such as news and weather and a few games. I am never bored. I always have something to do.
I have my daughter and granddaughters living near me and see them frequently, but not too frequently. I take my granddaughters to the movies at least once a month and we also go out to eat. I learn what is going on in their teenage lives and they keep me young and up-to-date with what is going on with young people today. I love them with all my heart and at this point it looks like they will be staying in town for college, so they will be around for awhile, which makes me glad, but in a way I wish they could go away to university and have that wonderful experience. But that’s not up to me. I can just stay here and love them all the more.
My health is strange. I have a number of things wrong with me, and I see the doctors and a therapist for these things. One is potentially dangerous but there is really nothing that can be done about it except to watch it carefully and watch my diet. I take meds for the other ailments. Other than that, my health doesn’t prevent me from doing what I want to do very much, apart from my migraine headaches on occasion.
So when I really think about it, my life is very full. It might be nice to have someone to share it with, but that might also mean that I’d have to make some compromises and give up some of the things that I do now, and I’m not sure if I’d want to do that. My life is my own. Maybe this really is happily ever after.