The Late, Great Me


Frosty condensation blanketed the backyard grass. The early morning chill coming through the glass of the kitchen window made my arms tingle. I lingered at the counter; first, putting together the lunch items we had planned the night before for myself and the girls (they buy the school’s cafeteria meals on certain preferred days), then, remained standing there to eat breakfast.
I’ve read several times that eating, standing at the kitchen counter, is not a good habit to get into, yet my mornings often begin this way as we all get ready to leave home for the day. You would think when my kids were little I might have been too busy to sit down, but I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom then. Since they sat in high chairs and booster seats for their meals, I sat, too.
Now, despite all the information I see about eating a good breakfast, my girls usually don’t eat anything before school. While we all hurry about the hallway, vying for our share of bathroom time, it’s easiest for me to grab a bite of something and keep moving with the morning agenda. I’m not pleased about it.
Middle age, now past the setting in stage, allows a lackadaisical mediocrity to infiltrate my habits. Exercise videos remain forsaken as reminders of slipping self respect. Books I had to own so I could read them at my leisure are piling up unopened. Books read at bedtime now, likely lie across my chest as I fall asleep. Craft materials rediscovered when I clean and reorganize, I used to put back with hope and a smile; now, I throw them away.
In spite of thoroughly enjoying some of the perks of the over 50 set, the Edie Gorme hit* that I sang earlier in the shower, What Did I Have That I Don’t Have? takes on significant meaning. I’m compelled on this morning to belt out the great lyrics, again.

“Oh, I’m just a victim of time, obsolete in my prime,
out of date and outclassed by my past …”

“What did I have that I don’t have?
What do I need a big supply of?
What was the trick I did particularly well before?…

“Wouldn’t I be the late, great me if I knew how?
Oh, what did I have I don’t have now?”

The brass finale builds. Drumroll.

*Another version of this song, by Lerner & Lane, was done by Barbra Streisand, but, for me, Edie’s version is the prime rendition.


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