OPINION

Lessons from life

Dolly Withrow
Hello Dolly

During my long life, I have learned that what people say and what they

do are often light years apart. As a result, I have learned to place

more credence in what people do than in what they say. I have learned

we cannot center around anything. We can center on and revolve around.

I have learned a great deal about language usage, for language is our

communication pipeline.

I’ve learned that egotistical people have a positive trait. They don’t

gossip about others because they talk mostly about themselves. I’ve

learned to judge people by how they treat those whose names are under

them on the organizational chart. I’ve learned that most of what I’ve

worried about in life has not come to pass. I know my friends will not

get excited about my small victories, nor will they have sleepless

nights because of my failures. I’ve learned there can be a wide chasm

between reputation and character. I’ve learned that people who mangle

the language can be quite brilliant in other fields, so when we become

linguistic snobs, we tend to display our own ignorance about humans

and their complexities.

My mother could size up a person’s character within the first ten

minutes after meeting the person. I could not and still cannot, but I

can conjugate any verb and talk about dangling modifiers and split

infinitives until my listeners go to sleep. My mother could not, but

her skills were far more valuable than mine. I've learned then that we

should not judge  people because they use double negatives.

I’ve learned that old age is partly attitude, for I know 40-year-olds

who fret about aging and 90-year-olds who are still filled with

enthusiasm. I’ve learned no one should ask a woman how old she is.

When she’s really old, she’ll brag about her age. My mother taught me

that because whenever we were near strangers, she would tell them how

old she was. This began when she reached 80. She lived to be 92.

Some people have lots of money. I think of them as wealthy. People who

enjoy good health, good friends, enough money to meet their needs, and

a home filled with love are rich. Life has taught me that being rich

is better than being wealthy. Life has also taught me that envy is a

terrible human trait because it hides behind an insincere smile and a

false friendship.

I’ve learned I should enter my kitchen only when I want a drink of

water or when I’m simply passing through to get to the exit door.

After all, that's what we're doing every day, just passing through

life to get to the exit door. I’ve learned that journalists leave a

space around the dash, but English majors and book editors do not.

I’ve learned that it’s no wonder most people dislike language rules,

otherwise known as grammar.

Freddie Flealoader  was a mixed-breed dog we rescued. He grew old and

had a mild stroke that resulted in a drooping mouth and smaller right

eye. With the vet’s help, though, he recovered. Freddie did not know

he was old, or if he did, he didn't dwell on it. When he went for

walks, he became fascinated with something as small as a blade of

grass or a butterfly. While Freddie spent his waking hours living in

the present, he sometimes dreamed of his lime-green world when he was

young and ran through the woods with Copper, our daughter’s hound who

died about a year before Freddie. I knew Freddie was dreaming of his

youth because when he slept, his legs moved as if he were running, and

I knew he was recalling a past that he would not give a thought to

when he awakened. I learned from Freddie to remember the past, but to

live in the present. Still, despite all these lessons, I know how

little I know.