My mentor was a teacher at Girls' Latin School, Miss Reilly, who passed away a long time ago, but whose photograph sits in my living room next to the piano, nestled in with the pictures of some of my other friends who have left me "on my tod". In fact, it was through Rosemary that I met Jim and Terry. They were my inheritance, and much more valuable than anything else she might have left me in her will. I talk to her when I'm in the garden. Her garden was spectacular and immaculate. Mine is a collection of weeds, but the ones with flowers on the end are welcome to stay. I have grubs and overgrown grass, but I also have the odd tulip or jonquil which I actually planted. Occasionally I do get out there on my hands and knees and start hacking away at the chaos and I talk to her. "Rosemary, what the hell is THIS? Is this a weed or a flower? Do I prune the dead branch after the azalea has stopped blooming or can I do it before? WHERE ARE YOU WHEN I NEED YOU?" There is no answer.
Terry and I have discovered that we are now "the grownups". We are the "wisdom figures" who make the world seem (hah!) a safer place to the younger generation. We have discovered the secret: grownups don't know nuthin. The illusion of protection has been shattered. We are now the ages of our mentors, our parents, our teachers when we thought they had all the answers. What passed for peaceful surety has been unmasked as weary exhaustion brought on by decades of just coping with each disaster as it comes. We're not calm and in control. We are tired and glad to be on the back nine of this golf course and heading for the club house. But whatever you do, don't tell the kids. Let them feel safe for a little while longer.