Do you have the courage to live?
Do you have the courage to age?
What does that comment mean to you? The Webster’s dictionary definition is: heart spirit; the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; quality of being fearless or brave; the courage of one’s conviction.
There are two things guaranteed you the day you were born. Death, and ageing.
As youngsters, our parents instill in us about being responsible. I constantly heard, “Pick up your toys; make your bed; go to school to get an education, so you can get a good job.” What did all those words mean to you as you got older?
I understood the meaning of picking up my toys, keeping my room clean because that was my responsibility, and helping with the chores in the house, but as I aged during my teen years, I didn’t have a clue what all that badgering meant. Then one day when I reached the age of 14, my mother told me and my brothers that we had to get a job. We did, but it still didn’t ring a bell. We got a job and gave our mother the money. We didn’t get an allowance. So I guess my brothers and I were contributing to the household.
Then mother would go on about getting an education so we can get good jobs. Well, I still didn’t get it. What was a good job?
Keeping in mind this was in the forties, and I am 80 years old now.
My brother worked on an ice truck on the weekends. My other brother worked in a grocery store, and I babysat the neighbor’s children, Were they good jobs? I still didn’t have a clue.
I was aware there was a schoolteacher who lived next doorto us. But going to college to have that career didn’t enter my mind. Another woman worked downtown running the elevator in Macy’s department store. A well-known chef worked in an upscale restaurant called SLADES where people came from all over the world to eat there. Did he need a college degree, I wonder? It was own and operated in the black area of Boston where I lived. A pharmacist was the owner of an appliance store like Sears but on a smaller scale, and also, a grocery store like the health food stores today; everything we purchased was in a bin, like Rainbow here In San Francisco, keeping in mind that this was in the forties.
I still wasn’t clear about getting an education. Now that I think about it, I guess it meant finishing high school. No one in my family ever talked about college. I know my family owned homes and cars and took lavish vacations. My mother’s family came from Trinidad, British West Indies, and my father’s family came from South Carolina but migrated to Boston. My grandfather was a chef in one of the major hotels in Boston, and my father graduated from a school like Lowell in Boston. After graduation, he began working in the Post office.
Courage — I found it at age 19, after high school and a short stint at a business school which I hated. I joined the army, traveled, and made money, not a lot, but enough. With no regrets. I had the courage to get my degree at age 50, and am still having fun.
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