This I Believe

Kathy - Dallas, Texas
Entered on February 8, 2007
Age Group: 65+
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This I Believe #2

Freud and Jung told us that the personality was there at birth within each of us. The Eastern philosophers said it was Karma brought forward from a past life with Destiny attached. I only know I was born curious.

The first family story with me as the heroine was as a toddler. We lived on a wheat farm in the flat Panhandle of Texas. It was winter with snow covering the ground. Mama dressed me up in my red snow suit, tied the hood tightly around my face, slid on the red snow boots and put me in the yard to get some fresh air. After a while she came looking for me, only to find me missing. Alerting all the field hands, a search was started. Someone noticed all the cattle gathered at the gate of the pasture one quarter of a mile away and mentioned this to my father. Daddy drove down to see what was going on and found me in the middle of the momma cows. I had wandered away to begin my exploration of the world.

Growing up, all of my requests for exploration and seeing the world fell on the deaf ears of my parents. Coming through the Reconstruction of the South following the American Civil War, my grandparents raised my parents to have a deep distrust of anyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line. According to them, everything anyone wanted could be found in the South. They wanted me to stay home, be safe, and learn to be a “Southern lady”. I could go any where on the farm I wanted but once we went to town, it was hold “Mama’s hand”. Sending me to Dallas to private school at sixteen only fanned the flames of curiosity and the desire to see my world. They said no to trips to New York City and to Europe. No to going to college in the Northeast – try Tulane in New Orleans or better yet some school in Texas. Get a degree that will insure you a job like teaching. No, you are not joining the Navy to see the world. Get married, have kids and live happily ever after were their admonitions.

I could say that I lived with dueling Karmas or I did things to please the people I loved. Whatever, I married, had three children, lived on a farm, divorced, moved to city as a single parent. I did what I was supposed to for the first four decades of my life. Twenty-five years after graduating from college and being between children’s weddings and college graduations, I finally began my exploration of the world. I joined the Peace Corps, arriving in Sierra Leone, West Africa at age forty-nine. These two years changed my life in many ways, including my perspective of aging. I returned with the knowledge that age was a limiting factor in only high and far I could jump. It had nothing to do with what I could do.

Since then, I have taught refugees and want-to-be teenage criminals English language; recruited for Peace Corps throughout the Southwest and traveled to others parts of the world. My friends tell me I am the explorer and they will go along or follow shortly. My children would like to hang a bell around my neck but the cell phone will do just as well as long as they can keep up with my whereabouts.

Today I am starting my second year of selling real estate and drawing my social security benefits. I have found a career that satisfies my love of houses, my desire to know what is behind the door and my enjoyment of people. I remain curious and willing to go to new places. My life is rich with familiar people, places and sounds and enriched with new people, places, sounds and smells.

My wish for my dotage is that I may die peering around some corner and being know a curious.