I read Robert Frost’s poem Nothing Gold Can Stay way back in my first or second year of college – 53 years ago or so. I’m a bit amazed that I remember it, though vaguely, because I don’t have clear memories of many things that I learned way back then.
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold…
The impact of this poem has been that I’ve marveled at the golden hue of buds on trees, that haze of gold in very early spring that tells me green is soon to come. The golden mist on the horizon that in a day or two turns to a bright green. Frost was right that the gold of early spring doesn’t stay. But as I reread the poem, now that I’m in my 70’s, I hear a meaning that my 20-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend – at least not emotionally.
…So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
I’ve been thinking of the aging process, triggered by the 5-day stay of our grandson and his family. They brought with them a 4 year old very active son and a 2 year old daughter. Zachary is turning 30 this year and they seem to have the same response as I had as I was approaching my 30th birthday – “Boy that seems old.” Allison is a few years behind him.
They have energy and take raising their children very seriously. This makes me very happy because I am the biological great-grandparent of the two year old and love the 4 year old as if he were a biological descendant. We are great-grandparents and we are emotionally invested in our young people and also all the parents and babies in all places.
Having our grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our home really tired us out, but I remember the energy I had as a young parent, to work and to play and to love. I also remember the worry and stress, and the numbing tiredness at the end of the day. Yes, those may have been golden days that quickly passed away, but they weren’t perfect days. There were times when I was eager to have a stage of family life move on into a new one.
The kids left at noon on Monday to visit Zachary’s maternal grandparents. It didn’t take long for us to ease back into our retirement routine of quietly greeting the morning with a cup of coffee on my purple porch swing, of coming and going as I please. Days of mixing up housework and quilting, reading and knitting, gardening and friends so my body is happy and my soul finds meaning.
Daughter, Carol, asked me when it was that I was able to become “great,” as in great-grandparent. Yes, I do feel great, and I have a lifetime of memories of great times. Maybe Robert Frost was right that nothing gold can last – but maybe he should have added another stanza that addresses the fact that the green of summer that spring gold moves into is just as wonderful.
I wonder what the golden days of my today will evolve into as I continue my spring and summer, fall and winter days. There is a darkness in this poem,
So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
Yes I have grieved the loss of those golden days of young adulthood, but an advantage of having an aged brain is that I am better able to hold the totality of life, the vast continuum of good and bad, within my heart and know that it was what it had to be and I did the best I could with what I was given.