“Turn! Turn! Turn!” was written by Pete Seeger in 1959 and made popular by folk rock group The Byrds in 1965. I was a teenager back then and unaware of the Biblical source. Now I know the song was subtitled “To Everything There Is a Season” and is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It is a story about life.
Turn, turn, turn points
In Your Story Matters, Leslie Leyland Fields gives this advice to a beginning memoirist: “Make a time line for every five to ten years of your life (depending on how old you are), marking important events: places you’ve lived, jobs you’ve held, major events in your family.” Turn, turn, turn points. Each important event is a stone set alongside your life path to physically mark the distance to a particular place or metaphorically mark a significant change or stage in development. A new chapter, turning point, breakthrough, discovery, landmark, anniversary or “big” birthday.
If we wrote an autobiographical memoir, marking the stages of life, we’d place a BIG milestone at the end of our student years and another BIG milestone when we’ve completed our careers and family lives, hopefully older, wiser, and only slightly battered. The next BIG milestone, between our third and final stages of life, brings winter’s stark beauty, as above here at Vanaprastha this morning.
On my timeline, I placed a BIG marker for when I became a parent.
There is a season for parenting, turn, turn, turn
I was in my late twenties when I bore my first child, not young by 80s standards. With an established teaching career, I was not a stay-at-home mom as many women in my generation were. Then about mid-way through the “work-kids” years, I became a single parent, also uncommon in those days. Turn, turn, turn—and lots of good memories.
For instance, my children loved to visit the Dallas Museum of Art—we lived north of Dallas then—especially the children’s education center so they could play with the computer program to create a landscape by dragging tree icons and such onto the art image on the screen. To make it more interactive, my children would make intentional mistakes, such as placing a tree in the sky. “Stay on the landscape!” an automated female voice scolded, or a deep male voice said, “Don’t do that!”
I don’t know what they did to prompt the computer to respond with the warning, “It’s not your turn!” But that’s the phrase I think about now that I’m no longer raising children. It’s not my turn anymore.
A time to every purpose, turn, turn, turn
I was in my mid-sixties when I became a grandparent, not a young grandma by any standard. By that time, I was also well on my way to establishing a new career in writing and returning to music. Active in my neighborhood, community, and church, all for the glory of God. Turn, turn, turn.
In The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children, Marilyn McEntyre and Shirley Showalter write, “The passage from parent to grandparent differs from all other changes in our lives because it involves not only a new dimension of our identity but also a transformative shift in relationship with the adult children we love. It is a delicate transition: we step in, we stop back; we witness, we help where we can, we make room for new needs and life-changing surprises.”
My children and our granddaughter live a day’s drive away, so we feel blessed to see them if only a few times during the year. During visits, Keith and I hope to model aging in a way that teaches our granddaughter that adults’ lives are rich, varied, and interesting, even as winter approaches. Also, we hope our children and granddaughter understand that there are things we are eager to do with them and other things that are too much for us—barring an emergency. As McEntye and Showalter state: “… a considered no may sometimes be a way of protecting the energy we need when it’s time to say yes.”
Time for every purpose under heaven. Yes. When it’s my turn.
Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2023/12/07/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-turn/