You know how life sometimes shows you billboards? Last week I got a Burma-Shave sign.
In the middle of the last century, Burma-Shave’s marketing strategy involved placing small signs along roadways that, when read while passing, told a poem, made a pun and sold some shaving cream.
My life-signs passed-by within 48 hours: three unrelated events happening to three different women. Each was significant on its own, but together revealed a greater purpose.
Pack your bags…
My teenage daughter has been working all summer at fun T-shirt shop. Other than babysitting and book blogging (where she gets paid in books) this is her first job. It’s perfect for her for a number of reasons but mostly because she likes earning a paycheck.
Through very little effort on my part she has become a saver. She has been paying for her own electronics and entertainment for years and she gets a thrill out of thrifty clothes shopping. Her greatest expense this summer was getting three new holes in her ears and shiny things to hang from them.
And she is also about to start college. As her summer was winding down she realized that she had saved enough for books, a new laptop and quite a bit more.
“Mom, I booked a trip to Chicago. I leave in a week.”
Her first solo adventure. Eighteen, full of excitement and apprehension about her next steps she’s celebrating them by traveling alone.
Well done, I say.
… And move your boxes …
Jen had sent out a call on Facebook; she needed help. I happened to have had nothing but “clean the bathrooms” on my schedule that day so I volunteered.
Jen is in her 20s. She’s a teacher and a damn great teacher at that. I met her through my kids but we quickly became friends mostly because our individual personalities didn’t make the other raise an eyebrow. Within minutes of meeting we figuratively bowed and silently conveyed, “The quirky in me recognizes the quirky in you.”
Jen is a smiler. When she’s stressed, she smiles, when she’s happy she beams and when I met her at her parent’s garage that day she was BEAMING. (And stressed, but mostly beaming.)
That day Jen and a handful of family and friends hauled the contents of the garage up hills, stairs and through doorways that were too small for her grandmother’s roll-top desk. That day we moved her belongings from storage into her new house.
Her own house. Her very first, OH MY GOSH I HAVE A MORTGAGE! Who is This Adult in the Mirror? house.
We all beamed for her that day. (And sweat but mostly beamed.)
… Around the corner to someday, my friend …
Carol is one of the greatest gifts life has given me. She is smart and loyal, humble and kind. Carol and I grew up half a country away and met when we were both almost 30. While I had been bouncing from job to job, state to state, boyfriend to husband – she had started work right out of Purdue with a telecommunications company.
The company has since changed names, offices and a lot of employees. Carol rode booms, changes and layoffs long enough that she eventually was able to decide that she didn’t have to work there anymore.
One day I got a text from her: “I am retired.”
“Congratulations!” I texted back. “That sounds so adult. When did we become adults?!”
“I guess today.”
Three women, three different stages of life, three corners turned and three new paths begun.
All in 48 hours.
… Because new beginnings never end.
(The collection of actual Burma-Shave signs, called jingles, is at burma-shave.org)
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.