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Charlottesville Colonnades Senior Living Community Essays Lifelong Learning

Prompt: Predictions for the New Year/New Decade

I can’t even begin to make predictions for our country or the world with such earth shattering events happening every time we turn around. Even the day ahead is hard to predict these days! But I will hazard a guess about my own life. I predict that in the new year I will become a new person. I once read an article discussing the pros of pursuing an education in a women’s Liberal Arts college. One of the advantages mentioned was that such a degree gave a woman the ability to reinvent herself several times over the course of a lifetime. I majored in chemistry, but my degree from Trinity College is A.B. because I completed all the core courses necessary for an Arts degree in a college of Arts and Sciences. Perhaps that is why I have reinvented myself several times already.

My most recent life has died a thousand deaths in the last few years, and now recently widowed and living in my new apartment in this friendly and supportive community, I am ready to start out in new directions. As I have pondered all the changes over the last few years, I am again reminded of an old “Twilight Zone” or “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” show that I saw on TV as a teenager. The show starred Barbara Bel Geddes (I think) as a beautiful young girl on a ship heading towards some adventure. The ship wrecks, and in the next scene she is waking up in a hospital bed wondering where she is. She gets up and looks in a mirror absolutely startled to see that she is an elderly woman. At that point, a nurse comes in and expresses surprise that she is awake. It turns out that she has been in a coma for 50 years after the wreck. The TV story ends there, and the viewer is left to speculate what might come next. I was left in complete shock by the show – and I guess as an “adrenaline moment” the memory has stuck with me all these years.

Today I find myself in a senior living community looking at an elderly woman in the mirror in somewhat of a state of surprise. Fifty-four years ago I went right from graduate school into marriage, and in a sense, marriage was my own shipwreck and coma – a complete break from my life as it had been. Now I am waking up, and – always an optimist – I am realizing that finally after all these years, I will get to write the script for a new chapter. Just wait and see – next year at this time you will hardly remember the person that you see today!