My second oldest sister turns 80 this week. She lives in Arizona, and when I saw her two weeks ago, I asked, “What are your top-five highlights of 80 years?” She looked at me as if I had asked for an impossible answer, and immediately said, “My four sisters.”
After much thought and laughter, she proceeded: 2) “As a kid, going to the lake with my family” 3) “Moving to Black Canyon City” 4) “Having family visit and going to dinner at Rock Springs” 5) “My critters, you know, cats and puppies.”
She spoke of some men, but none made the top five. Nor did her deeds and accomplishments, the first-generation college graduate in our family, her cruises or travel through Europe, or the beautiful custom art and jewelry she designed and created. Every top-five highlight of her 80 years included relationships. Even the little town she mentioned became part of her top-five because 23 years ago, friends invited her for a visit.
I decided to answer the question myself: (marriage and birth of children are a given) 1) four sisters, 2) thirty years on the farm, 3) earning a Ph.D., 4) restoring, and living in a Carnegie Library 5) counseling and teaching.
What are YOUR top-five highlights? We could all probably write a book about each one, and all would likely be full of people who influenced and impacted our lives.
A friend sent me a Harvard article on human happiness. The study followed two groups of men and their baby-boomer children for seventy-five years. The researchers found what keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life is not fame or money, but the quality of our close relationships. It is people and pets who make our events memorable. What we do alone does not usually contribute to our satisfaction as much as what we share with others.
Happiness seems to be individual, and life’s highlights, collective. We can have several happy moments each day. They can be a sunrise, call from a friend, a kind store clerk, kids laughing, roses blooming, etc.. Our top-five involves a collection of happy times, and they likely include people. For example, I have panic memories of when I ran out of gas on a country road, miles from home, but mainly I remember the kind CO-OP driver who appeared from nowhere. Many small, impactful moments affect my chosen top-five highlights.
The same choices could be true if you asked a couple married for 60 years, “What are YOUR top-five highlights?” The answers might be, “Our first little home.” “Times when we didn’t have five cents to spare.” “Christmases.” “Going to church.” Each answer likely involved many relationship memories.
“What are YOUR top-five highlights?”
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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