What My Life Will Look Like at Seventy

by Adam Shepard

When I’m seventy, my grandchildren, all six or seven of them, will sit around my La-Z-Boy at Christmas, and they will want to hear stories about my one-year journey. The aroma of a honey-glazed ham, green-bean casserole, and cheesy hash browns drifts softly into the living room from grandma’s kitchen. Two pies—pecan, my favorite, and pumpkin, which I don’t care for—are cooling out back on the screened-in porch.

And my grandchildren will ask me questions. 

“Did you meet the Dalai Lama?” they will ask. “Did you buy anything for Grandma? Like a scarf or something? Did you see any Asian people? I mean, like, real Asian people. Not like the ones with funny accents that we have in the United States.”

Then, a raised hand from the corner will catch my attention. One shy grandchild will sit alone, having remained silent this entire time. When our eyes meet, he’ll wait, hand still raised, for me to acknowledge him. Good Lord, son. You needn’t raise your hand to speak in this household. I’ll point to him.

“What is the one place you enjoyed the most during your journey?” he’ll ask, and I’ll be curious why it takes the most intelligent ones so much time to gather the moxie to be more outgoing. Why are you sitting in the corner? I’ll wonder. Please don’t sit in the corner. Are you listening to the rest of these questions? You really are the only hope for this family.

This question, though, is one I’ve long pondered. The one place. Maybe it won’t be fair for me to think about these things, since I’ll have enjoyed the trip as a whole, and every individual spot from start to finish will have been new and exciting and held its own flavor, and besides, our greatest adventures are the next ones—whether those adventures are a segment of a ’round-the-world trip or just hoping to finish dinner without our teeth falling out. 

“Honduras,” I’ll say, and this will grab everyone’s attention. They’ll all scoff at me. 

“Honduras!” they’ll yell, looking one to the other as if I can’t possibly be serious. He must be kidding, this antique of a man. “You fought bulls in Nicaragua and rode an elephant in Thailand and hiked Abel Tasman in New Zealand and bungee jumped in Slovakia, and you’re telling us the place you enjoyed the most was Honduras?” They haven’t heard favorable reports from Honduras.

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