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Women’s Stories of Successful Aging

Kay Dilger Metcalfe: Written Reflections on Aging

I Was And Now I Am (Fall 1999)

In this piece, which was also published in “Reminiscences,” Kay describes the firm foundation she received as a child growing up in a family where life was “natural and safe” and where parents and elders “made life move smoothly onward.” She ends by contemplating her present life in a more complicated world. She realizes that conflicts will always be with us but believes that “Peace … will overcome eventually.”

I was a little kid about 2 to 5 years old and now all of a sudden I am an octogenarian. How did I get there? I guess by facing each day knowing home and life were natural and safe. I am sure there must have been an underlying faith. I and others trusted in our tomorrows which we sensed would always be waiting expectantly for us. As time went on we grasped intuitively what was expected of us by trying to please our parents and elders, because they were what made life move smoothly onward.

I was the little sister to my older sister. It was later on I discovered that I was to have been born a boy and rather a disappointment. This knowledge did not affect me, however. I was a girl and that was the way it was. But I would have accepted to have my hair be curly.

Then school came along, learning was uppermost. Fortunately effort and small successes made me feel worthwhile. I remember being enamored with words. I’ve found lists of written words and their definitions that I had made early on. Words hold the magic. Now that I am in my eighties, which in earlier years I had thought to be too far off to even contemplate, I realize that the various phases of life one enters and leaves are continuous. One phase builds upon the other and a certain maturity and sophistication ensue. There are two elements in my life that seem to dominate. One, being able to see and understand both sides of a question; the other, taking on a commitment when no other person was available. It was then that I felt able to take on a task and usually I did pretty well.

Here I stand now and I am learning to appreciate where the generations behind me are coming from. (It does take a good bit of doing.) I shall settle down into a comfortable situation knowing there will be wiser ones than I and others to find their way with truth and courage. Hostilities will never disappear but Peace, even under deplorable circumstances, will overcome eventually. Of this I am assured.

Kathryn Metcalfe