Robert J. Hastings passed away in 1997. Now, my mother was famous for cutting things out of the newspaper and Ann Landers was Moms favourite columnist. After his death, Ann did a short tribute to the man and published his most famous poem. The Station. Guess what my Mom cut out that day? When my mother passed away I found so many cuttings tucked away lovingly in books, old chocolate boxes, wallets that were no longer used. Everywhere were small scraps of paper which showed what was meaningful to her in her life. Prayers, quotes, poems and just advice columns. I find I do the same thing and one day my kids will find these same treasures hidden here there and everywhere.
The Station uses a train journey as an analogy to living life. We focus less on the actual journey and more on the day we have made it. When we reach our final destination. The Station. My mother didn’t harp at me about these things, rather she would hand me one of her gems and ask me to read it. That was it. She was all about planting the seed of an idea. Hoping it would somehow land in a fertile part of my brain and begin to root and then grow. Such was the case with this poem. She had me read it long before his death, at a time when I had my whole life ahead of me and I was free and full of joy. Every day was an adventure. Every day was just waiting to happen. But in 1997, life was a bit harder. We were busy. Kids were growing and both of us were working hard to try and build for the future.
It was that winter that some friends of ours bought a cabin on a small resort not far from Calgary. They were so excited and as spring approached their enthusiasm was contagious. Other friends went to look at the place and were soon making plans to buy a small piece of paradise. We didn’t go right away but in time we were curious to see what our friends were up to. And so, we finally took a drive out. My parents came along. We were in love. The cabins were small but efficient. Only usable from April to October. There was a small man made lake to swim in with a beach area and playground. A nine hole golf course meandered through out the resort. The lots were large and the cabins were nestled back in among the trees. There was privacy and people minded their own business. And yet, many truly enjoyed the social side of life. Children had freedom to roam and ride bikes. It was like being transported back to the 1960’s. Because the land was leased and the homes were tiny, it was affordable.
After we spent the day looking at properties we made our way back to my Mom and Dads home. On the car ride I was so excited. My husband just kept saying, we need to think about it. The whole conversation was about everything that we needed to do before we could one day afford a place. My heart sank. When we arrived at my folks house, I was discouraged. I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt it wasn’t going to happen anyways. My Mom reminded me of the poem as my husband and my Dad went into the living room to chat. She told me not to worry. It would be ok. My husband always respected my Dad and Mom knew that we just needed to leave the two to talk for awhile. In time we joined the two men. My husband was convinced. The longer we put it off, the older the children would get. Our oldest was already at an age where she wouldn’t want to hang out with us much longer. The next morning we drove back to the resort and bought our own little slice of heaven. We spent many happy summers there and the memories we have are priceless.
That was the beginning of the end for me. Soon after, our infant son passed away and life became all about the now. We started to live life differently. Enjoyed things more. Focused less on work and more on play. Priorities shifted. We retired younger than most. Life was more impromptu. We went outside of our comfort zone and tried new things. We got up and either did something or we didn’t. It became a more peaceful and content time of life. We stopped worrying about what the future would bring and did the things we loved. I am so glad that my husband was able to enjoy retirement for so many years. He died at 63 but the years leading up to that were full and truly content.
I realize now that I try and enjoy everyday. When I put in my new deck I dug up the grass beside it in order to take some of the slope of the yard away. I planted new grass and started on the other side of the yard. In the mornings I would sit with my coffee and stare at my beautiful backyard. The one side looked like a war zone but I didn’t notice. I only saw the lovely part. Now and again I get an idea and I run with it. Then I enjoy my creations. And sometimes I change my mind in the middle of a project and it seems as if I will never finish. And often I don’t. But this doesn’t bother me. I do things because I enjoy them. I garden because it brings me joy. I write because one day when I am gone, my little scraps of paper will be in one place. Well, I do still cut things out. But my thoughts and memories are here for my grandkids. Next week I will get out the potting soil and start my seedlings. I will tend to them until they are bigger when I will transplant them into larger pots. Oh I know I can go and buy everything at the local nursery but I love to do this. When the mood hits to make my Moms rye bread, I do it. It gives me a good warm feeling. I feel her.
Yesterday was my Mothers birthday. She would have been 95 years old. Life was crazy for her in the young years. But in time she did what she enjoyed. I understand her so much more now than I ever did. Her passions. Her loves. Her hobbies. She lived life her way and didn’t care what went on around her. I am grateful that I learned from her. I am grateful that she found joy in the every day things. I feel that peace that she felt. Blessed to be able to pass on her wisdom. Last summer my daughter wanted to buy a trailer. She had something specific in mind and when she put it out to the world, someone she knew was selling their trailer. And it was perfect! Drews husband was a little more reluctant and when she and I spoke about it I reminded her of the story about the cabin. Drew reminded her husband that the kids were getting older. They only had a few more years with their oldest daughter before she wouldn’t want to be with them. Sound familiar? They bought the trailer last year and are making all sorts of plans for camping with friends this summer. The moral is there is no magical time down the road when we will be happy. That final destination when we can finally put aside all of the have to’s and get down to the business of want to’s. Like Robert Hastings tells us, there is no station where we will finally arrive and life will be perfect. I learned long ago that life is perfect right now! We don’t have to wait for the end result.
The Station by Robert J. Hastings
Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train, and from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is our final destination – for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
“Yes, when we reach the station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re 18… win that promotion… put the last kid through college… buy that 450 SL Mercedes-Benz… pay off the mortgage … have a nest egg for retirement.”
Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion – it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory; tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to history; tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset; tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.
2 thoughts on “I’m Not About The End Result”
Hi Cindy… reading your blogs activates my mind and takes me back, reminding me of so many things. Today I visualized my mom and her notes and pieces tucked away everywhere…She was an amazing person. When I was very young, I didn’t like my Farmor very much because I thought she was so unfair to my mom. I struggled growing up, trying to protect her from Farmor. I finally joined a group where they helped me understand my relationship with my mom. They suggested that I should talk to mom about this. And I finally did.. I think I was in my 30’s when I talked to mom about my fears for her, and trying to somehow protect her. It was tough, I was little. Mom and I talked for some time and finally she put her hand on my arm, gave me a little smile, and said something quite profound… “Let it go!!” And somehow, my life seemed to take a small turn, and a weight that I had been carrying for many years, was lifted.. Thank you Cindy for being in my life. I love you completely and look forward to receiving your blogs. You never cease to amaze me. Just one thing more… do you have a recipe for mom’s rye bread? Love you !!!
Thanks big brother. We were lucky to have her as a Mom. And we are lucky to have each other. Love you lots and yes… I have what tastes close to her recipe. Anything you find on line is more Danish. She Canadianized hers.