A favorite scripture verse of mine has always been from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, “A Time for Everything.”

It was read at my grandfather Hawkins’ funeral, I read it at my high school convocation at South Portland High School, and I have modeled it as a reading many times in speech classes I have taught. Besides the parallel construction of the lines, the sheer wisdom of them has always struck me. These opposites are what make up our lives.

Recently I spent a day where I noticed the contrasts between fun and obligation and joy and sorrow.

On a beautiful, sunny Saturday recently, I went to Kennebunk where I participated in a town yard sale with my friend Lydia. Although I had very few items to sell, I like yard sales and I wanted to spend time with my friend.

For four hours we were selling and chatting. After the sale ended, her husband helped us pack up and we met for lunch at Mike’s in Arundel for some good comfort food. On the way back to Kennebunkport, Lydia and I rode by the Brick Store Museum where there was an exhibit of Jane Morgan’s “performance clothes.” So we decided to stop to see it. What a delight! The most beautiful array of gowns!  After, we briefly stopped at Arundel Antiques, and then on my way back to Portland I stopped at Martel’s in Saco for an ice cream. This day was my idea of fun.

My mother had a friend who always wanted to go out to eat, to “have a ball”, to have fun. I asked my mother, “Shouldn’t life be more than just fun?” My mother reminded me, “Well, she teaches elementary school and takes care of her elderly father who lives with her.” And with age, I have come to understand the balance of fun and obligation.

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After I got home from my fun day, I looked over my mail. First, a notice telling me I had jury duty. My fun had been spoiled until I remembered I had a duty, too. And filling out the application, after I put Wilmington, Delaware, for my birthplace, I thought of beginnings.

I opened up the next piece of mail, a note from a dear older friend’s daughter saying that her mother had had another stroke, this one changing her somewhat. Sorrow.

Then joy. The next note I opened up was an invitation to a 60th wedding anniversary party for friends I’ve known for more than 40 years. On the front of the  card is their wedding picture with a current picture beside it.

I think of my aunt and uncle in Mississippi, who as they age into their 90s, accept this transition gracefully. They take great delight in the newest generation of their nine great grandchildren. “Oh, all those babies,” my aunt said after she had met the newer arrivals.

Yes, life is made up of cycles, of contrasts, and ups and downs. I have always known this, but this one day reminded me.

— Special to the Telegram


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