I am so rooted in this world and this life. I want to see what happens next: the next baby, the next step in each child and grandchild’s life, the next steps for my husband and me. I still expect “nexts.” I look forward to them.
My aunts remind me that this world is connected to the world to come. One opens on to the other. And this world, still so hospitable to me, seems increasingly strange and alien to them. We think it is because of these changes: new technologies, disturbing political developments. But my aunts are 20th-century women. They know all about new technologies and disturbing political developments. They went from being quarantined with scarlet fever (the quarantine flag raised above their houses and all their bedclothes and toys burnt once they recovered) to scarlet fever as a mild complaint, easily and quickly cured with antibiotics. They’ve lost brothers and friends to war.
The world is increasingly strange and alien to them because the people who make it home are, one by one, passing over, dying, and going from this world to the next.
Babies turn our eyes to the future. But the elderly turn our eyes that way, as well. At both poles of life, we are reminded of our dual citizenships, in this world and in the world to come.