Finish strong could easily become my mantra as I am now only two months away from my 73rd birthday.  I have especially become aware of this thought since I have recently had shoulder surgery and am in my fifteenth week of physical rehabilitation, and on top of this I am in my second week of nursing a chronic case of laryngitis. 

            I look back at my life and realize that, eventually, we all pay for choices we make earlier in life.  For example, I wore three-inch high heels every day I taught for thirty years…and later in life, I had to have surgery done on both feet to correct the damage I wrought.  My husband and I enjoyed ballroom dancing, and now we are both wishing we could still “cut a rug” like we did in our youth.  Alas, those days seem far away.

            I took great pride in the fact that I only missed a week of teaching school for surgery in my early thirties, and after that, only about three or four days total over my fifty year teaching career.  So, I consider myself an exceptionally strong person.  Now, with age and the aftereffects of surgery, I find myself more aware of my vulnerability.  Now, it takes extra effort and preparation to be sure that I finish strong! 

            Often I told my students as they rehearsed music and/or plays, “You must really work on the beginning and the ending the hardest.”  My reasoning is that, if the beginning of a performance is not a strong one, people will be turned off and leave, or moan to themselves about having to endure a painful experience.  And, if the finish is very strong, people will go away remembering what they just experienced as a wonderful event!  The middle part may have flaws, but with a strong beginning and finish, most audiences are quite forgiving…and forgetful!

            We often look back and long for those exciting middle years of life.  I personally think a woman is at her height of beauty during her forties.  The children are usually in secondary school or college by then, and one is able to have fun and excitement with his/her spouse.  Yet, it is also during this time that many marriages fall apart and midlife crises appear.  The strong usually weather the storms, but many give in and throw in the towel during those turbulent times.  As I look back, I am thankful that my husband and I were able to survive that middle part of our fifty-two years together.  I compare it to our sailing days when our boat was leaning 15+ degrees in the wind, and I was fighting hard to hold in the sheets with the lines in my hands, and my husband guiding the rudder to smoother seas.  It was worth the effort when we pulled into dock with a safe and sound boat and crew.  Life is like that.

-          Kay