There’s no getting around it. Coffee is bitter. It wakes me up and gets my day started, but on its own it is hard to drink. That’s why I like vanilla creamer. It’s the sweet in bittersweet. Every once in a while, I come across someone who has that effect on my life, too.
Yesterday I attended a memorial for a woman whom I knew only briefly. I met her when we both participated in a drama class for people over sixty. When I knew her she was over ninety, witty, friendly, smart, and not at all confined by her wheelchair. I looked forward to seeing her arrive at our classes. She brought warmth and humour to our stumbling efforts. Unlike many of us, she never seemed self-conscious about playing drama games and participating in readers’ theatre. I wondered where she got that confidence. At the memorial celebration of her life, I found out.
She had spent a lifetime taking on challenges, finding creative solutions to practical problems, tackling political issues, caring about the welfare of others, and practising artistic talents. I learned about her family background, her formal education, her professional career, her faith, her life-long learning, and her creativity. I was both impressed and inspired.
At the same time that I was intrigued and amazed by her full, active, life I couldn’t help reflecting on my own. I wondered if she ever spent hours watching movies on television or surfing the internet as I do. Probably not. Am I wasting a lot of time when I could be doing something creative, productive, or helpful? Certainly.
As I left the memorial service I felt surprisingly buoyant and determined to accomplish more. She had impressed me once again, but this time she had also given me a kind, polite, and cheerful kick in the pants. Thanks, Marguerite. That was bittersweet.