I spoke to a woman at my church yesterday whom I only know very superficially. We have been part of the same church for seven years and I have spoken to her on many occasions, but I don’t know her well. Our church is currently meeting in a school, the church building is undergoing some refurbishment, and this lady and I were chatting in the gym. She commented on the ropes and mentioned that she had enjoyed climbing ropes when she was at school (a feat I never once managed). I was taken aback. She is further along the age spectrum than I am and she is on the plumper side of slim. She is a busy and involved member or our church family and helps out at most events and she actively supported our trip to Uganda. But I just couldn’t see her climbing ropes. She went on to tell me that she enjoyed gym as a girl. In fact, she was quite sporty and had enjoyed ice-skating, badminton and swimming. This was a side of her which I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined. She told me that she had stopped badminton when she got married and then, when her husband had taken it up later, he had not wanted to play ‘a woman’, and that had been that. She didn’t tell me what happened to the skates or the bathing costume. It was a passing conversation in a busy church service and I was not able to assess whether this was a great regret in her life or just one of those things.
I was left wondering what the next generation might find surprising about me when I am older. Writing a blog? Writing novels? Running half-marathons? Taking an alternative to mainstream education and home schooling? Mountain climbing? Really? Her? (Not all of these examples are really me, not yet anyway.) I would like to think that what is important to me now always will be and that, in later life, I would in some small way be an inspiration, an old lady who wears purple. But I would also like to think that I am happy not to be defined by what I do, that I am willing to let things go when they no longer fit my life, that I can enjoy what I enjoy and treasure happy memories.