Halves of Lives


I read yesterday, on a Facebook friend’s page, a comment about the second half of life — and, after an acknowledgement of a deficit in math skills — hopes for what the third half of life might hold. This idea of a third half of life — perhaps even a fourth — has taken hold in my thoughts. Halves, not fractions, is key, I think, as our lives are infinitely fractured. But halves, well, that implies a cohesiveness to a part, something finite, time-bound, even if only in retrospect.

I don’t know how long I will muse upon this idea. Perhaps it is the beginning of a short story — or middle, or end, or somewhere.

Once upon a time I lived the first half of my life. Then, before I was aware it had even started, I was almost through with the second half. Now, I begin the third half having learned that I know little of what has passed, and don’t have any ideas about what is to come.

Not real pleased with that, totally lacking in any interesting detail, but better (*) will come if I follow this, taming with pen and paper whatever story is out there in the wilds.

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(Note 1: Sometimes, I like starting with “Once upon a time” to get past that first word on a page, even if those words never make it into any kind of final draft. Isn't everything once upon a time? Or never upon a time? Didn’t it work when we were six? And, this probably has something to do with time, although not chronology.

Note 2: Hat tip to the Facebook professor. His “betters” inspire attempts at improvement.)
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Or maybe there isn’t a story waiting to be captured.

Maybe this idea of the third half of one’s life will worm its way into an essay. I think this as I sit, waiting, watching for the inevitable death rattles, of my son’s grandfather. Disease and dementia have overtaken his frail body. The first half of his life, he was the aviator-hero, Distinquished Flying Cross recipient, chest full of brass. The second half of his life he earned awards of a different kind for making smiles, teaching reading and shooing bees from his 5th grade classroom, and trying to give to his grandsons what he did not give to his sons. Now, in the third half of his life, the kalidiscope constantly changes, mixing memory fragments into newly patterned landscapes, beautiful gardens in their pieces but on the whole, dark waking nightmare forests without any waypoints along the trail. This third half is comprised of pieces of who he is, but it is not who he was. Neither a beginning nor a fair and fitting end. As fragmented as his memory is, this third half is still a whole part.

Shapeshifting in early morning light.

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2 responses to “Halves of Lives

  1. The mathematician in me is, of course, having trouble with the idea of “third half,” but the writer (poet? Is there actually a poet in me? She gasps) in me loves it. BTW, keep up with your “once upon a time” paragraph. I like it as the beginning of a short story, really. The details aren’t needed. They’ll come, and right now, interest is piqued without them. (IMHO, of course. Feel free to disregard what I have to say.)

    • Thanks, Emily! Appreciate the feedback. I think the photo is what I like best about this post (it was taken more than a year ago), and then the idea that I stole about the 3rd half, then the essay-ish part about my son’s granddad, and then the possible intro to a short story. BUT, getting your feedback may lead me to rethink this at some point in the future. Maybe there is something there after all.