Then, after a months-long pity party, that little voice inside me that I trust told me that if I wanted a purposeful life again, I needed to script it for myself. All the years I had been raising my sons, I had had aspirations. But working swing shift in a factory and caring for four rambunctious boys had left me little time to pursue those aspirations. Now, with my sons gone, I had the time I needed. And I was determined to project a new me on the big screen of my remaining years.
I had always wanted to write. I had dabbled at it a little over the years when I found a free moment, but I had never had the time to take it seriously. Now, I began reading how-to-write magazines and books. I took writing classes at the local university. I got up my courage and submitted an essay to a magazine. It was published. Other publications followed. Today I am a bona fide freelance writer.
However, I knew that no amount of personal achievements would ever compensate for not seeing my family. I love road travel and am unafraid of traveling alone, so after I began driving around the country to visit my family, soon taking detours along the way to out-of-my-way places. I saw the beautiful horse farms in Lexington, Kentucky, the French Quarter in New Orleans. In addition, I visited Oxford, Mississippi, and drove the Natchez Trace on my way to Houston where two of my sons and their families reside.
Once, on a return trip from Houston, I drove more than 600 miles to West Texas and visited Big Bend National Park. In Terlingua (in the West Texas desert) I stayed the night in a corrugated metal hotel atop a graveled hill, listening to coyotes bark and howl at the moon. The next morning I sat around a campfire with some of the town’s locals for breakfast. I then circled home through New Mexico, Colorado, and South Dakota (where I visited another son stationed at an air force base). Then I began to write about my travels and the people I met. I wrote about my grandchildren, the funny things they said and did. Now, at 76, I have cemented memories with my grandchildren and have sold more than 400 articles and essays.
My quest to be the director of my own life in my later years enriched my life profoundly. I discovered a confidence in myself I’d forgotten I had. And I knew that I’d succeeded in becoming who I was truly meant to be when a friend wistfully told me recently, “You know who you are. You know how you want to live your life.”
Barbara Weddle writes from Kentucky.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.