by Margaret L. Been
[Both the essay and the painting, “The Mist of Time,” are Margaret’s art. I asked to publish this essay, from her book Painting Your Canvas: Artful Reflections for Keepers at Home (Phillips, WI: Elk River Books, 2007), p. 5. See info at end on how to order.]
It was late in the 1950s — maybe 1959. I took the left-over holiday ham — still on its big, clunky bone — out of the refrigerator, to slice it up for our day-after-Christmas lunch. One of our luncheon guests sat at my kitchen table, observing the young children as they played on the kitchen floor while the baby bobbled about in his bouncy chair.
Then the guest turned her attention to the ham and my ritual of slicing. With sardonic precision, she questioned: “Is this what you are doing with your life?”
“Yes,” I answered. “This is what I’m doing with my life, and I am very contented!”
The visitor went on to sing the praises of someone we both knew, a woman who — husband and children notwithstanding — was currently engrossed in earning her master’s degree in biology. Obviously, my chosen lifestyle of full time child-tending and slicing ham did not impress my guest — even though she would momentarily be devouring a yummy ham sandwich on a Kaiser roll with mustard and cheddar cheese, diligently prepared by me!
Later in the day, as I reflected on that kitchen conversation, it occurred to me that biology is the science of life. As a wife, mother, and homemaker I was up to my earlobes in life. Thankfully I knew that earning a master’s degree in biology (or anything else) could never be as satisfying, or even remotely as interesting, as my beautiful life at home with my husband and a bunch of little people who loved and needed me.
Now, many years later, I never see a clunky ham bone without saying to myself, “Yes, this is what I’m doing with my life — and I’m very contented!”
Copyright Â© 2007 Margaret L. Been. All rights reserved. To order the book, send a US$7.00 check (includes shipping) made out to Margaret L. Been at W. 4031 Musser Heights Lane, Phillips, WI 34555. Her email is corgispin [.at.] pctcnet [.dot.] net. The book is 22 pages in 8 1/2 x 11 format. I get no commission, just the satisfaction of sharing a well-written work.