By Jim Palmer
“In the end, we’ll all become stories.”
I came across this quote the other day and it caught my attention. The quote is from Margaret Atwood, a Canadian poet. It first caught my attention because I love to tell people’s stories and have been doing that for more than half my life. But it also struck a chord with me because of it’s deeper meaning -- that when we are gone, people will remember us mainly through stories passed down from people who knew you.
Just about every relative in my family who has passed away has at least two or three stories attached to them. Here are a few stories from my family tree: Ruth (when she was in her 70s) once threw fire crackers in a campfire when we were all gathered around it during a Fourth of July get together. Kathleen was outdoorsy and liked to swim on her property in the woods. Harold milked cows his whole life (and had a bad back as a result). Archie loved to fish but didn’t like to eat fish, so he would bring his catches to friends who liked fish but didn’t like to fish. Gene had a side job a ventriloquist for a good part of his life.
In the Runestone edition this month, I wrote about Margaret Pederson, who is turning 100 years old on Oct. 1. I have written several stories about 100 year olds over the years. This one was different. Not only is Margaret healthier and sharper than most 100 year olds I have come across, she is also still actively making a difference in her community. She is still writing her story.
At age 98, Margaret started a group called Be Kind. The group promotes kindness on an individual basis (face to face). The Be Kind movement made state news in 2019 for the impact it was making in her community. And Margaret remains a driving force in that group to this day.
While most interviews with 100-year olds revolve around what the centenarian was doing during their childhood and working years, Margaret’s story extended all the way through her 80s and 90s and into the present. If you do not receive the Runestone edition, I recommend that you find the article about Margaret on our web page (srperspective.com). Her story and other stories from the October edition will be available online in early October.
Reading this quote and writing Margaret’s story also made me think of something else. Over the years, I have heard the phrase, “I would like to do (fill in the blank) but I’m probably too old,” or “I’m too old to start a new job.” Or, “It’s too late for me to learn a new (fill in the blank). Or, “I’m probably too old to try to pick up this new hobby.”
In fact, I can think of three times this past summer alone that someone used the “I’m too old” line with me. And in all three of these cases, there appeared to be plenty of time left to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish. Each person appeared to be in good enough shape mentally and physically to achieve their dreams or goals. For whatever reason, though, they weren’t going to commit to pursue these dreams (or even try). Margaret Pederson’s story should be an example to all of us that you can start something new or try to make a positive impact in our community at any age. It might not be at the same scale that Margaret chose, but it doesn’t have to be, either. It could be a small or simple as helping out at the Humane Society or taking care of a garden at city park.
What is your story? Do you have a new chapter that you want to write?
Veterans Special Section
Senior Perspective will publish our annual “Heroes Honored” special section in October and that will be inserted in every November edition of the newspaper. The special section honors all the veterans. We look forward to publishing and distributing this special section next month.