I often think of words a longtime friend uttered after her husband of 55 years died:

“I wish we had stopped to smell the roses.”

Likewise, my husband will typically advise young people to enjoy their lives, by warning: “It’s later than you think.”

It’s true that life is short, though we don’t think in those terms when we are young.

When we were released from school for the summer, the long, carefree days stretched forever before us. Now they are over in the blink of an eye, and before we know it, it is Labor Day.

Why it is, I do not know exactly, but the phenomenon proves true: Each year of our lives goes by faster than the last.

Click, click, click.

It is only when we start to creep toward retirement age that we begin to realize life doesn’t go on forever — if, that is, we are lucky enough to have made it that far. Many are not so fortunate.

We start to notice our legs aren’t as limber, our fingers not as nimble, we tire more easily, and where once we were able to shop or hike or socialize all day and into the evening, we now are ready to hit the sack at 9 p.m.

Also, our minds aren’t quite as sharp. We know the answer to a question on “Jeopardy,” for instance, but the words won’t come. We can visualize a place, but it takes us twice the amount of time to utter its name.

People tell me not to worry if I forget where I put my car keys — that happens to all of us now and then. But if we forget what keys are used for, then we’ve got something to worry about.

These things become more abundantly clear as we ease our way into summer, the time when we attend gatherings and parties and family reunions.

We recently returned from a family reunion in Massachusetts for my husband’s mother’s side of the family.

Only about a dozen of us attended, and we did a lot of laughing.

When we returned to Maine with two of Phil’s cousins and a spouse of one, we laughed some more.

And then we watched old family films.

There they all were, tossing baseballs, carousing in the lake, hula-hooping, wrestling with the dog and waving to the camera as they pranced at Christmas into the houses of their aunts and uncles, all gone now.

We watched with a mix of amusement and nostalgia: amusement for the goofy way kids acted for the camera, and nostalgia for the past.

Yes, the time is ticking down. Our lives are two-thirds to three-quarters gone.

We’ve spent years running and rushing around in a sea of people.

In the race to get ahead, we find ourselves standing still.

But that is, after all, life, isn’t it?

As we dive into this summer of 2019, we know we can’t slow down time.

But we may at least create that illusion by stopping to smell the flowers and reminding ourselves that it is later than we think.

And by counting our blessings. Yes, every one.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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