Linda Dorian: Facing transitions with grace

Linda Colvard Dorian

Linda Colvard Dorian

We face many transitions in life: child to teenager to adult, single person to married and maybe divorced, to parent and grandparent, widow or widower.  

Through my 50s and most of my 60s, I thought of myself as middle-aged. But you really can’t hit 70 and still wear that label. It became clear to me recently that I was perceived as an older person, whom salespeople and wait staff refer to as “dear.” 

My 6-year-old granddaughter tried to save the seat next to her for her mama instead of me. “Well, Nana is old,” she explained, as though that settled it.

My daughter faced the transition of divorce this year, and has handled that with amazing strength and grace. Both she and her husband, a loving father, have placed their daughters first, dealt with each other with flexibility and kindness, and showed a united front as parents. I am awfully grateful, for their family’s sake.  

A friend and devoted supporter of the Museum of Art - DeLand has sold her much-loved home and is moving to South Florida to be close to a daughter. Other friends are moving into smaller homes or assisted-care facilities so they have less to take care of and more time for pleasure.   

As we age, we become aware that the things that we collect for their beauty and for sentiment may come to own us as much as we own them. I love old family photographs; when I told my older granddaughter, who is 9, that she was related to all the people in the photos, her beautiful brown eyes widened and she said, “Nana, that’s an awful lot of people.” She may not treasure these as much as I do.

My law-school friend Nancy, a devoted dog-lover who lost her husband 14 years ago, recently had to put down Hugo, her beloved bouvier des Flandres. She held him as he took his last peaceful breaths. 

Nancy and Hugo were partners, and he was probably her closest relationship next to her daughter and granddaughter, who live separate lives far away. We share every day with our loving pets, and they are often the first living beings we see upon waking and the last as we close our eyes at night. 

Dogs teach humans the most important lessons of loving unconditionally and absolute loyalty. We can take a little step to return that favor by not letting them suffer unnecessarily from incurable disease, something we cannot yet do in most states for our human loved ones.

We hope we gain wisdom as we age, and come to know that the most important things in our lives are our relationships with the people we love and whose lives we touch. Some years ago, I read the memoir of a highly respected attorney in The Washingtonian magazine. 

“You know,” he was quoted as saying, “I will never wish that I had a chance to handle another case or write another brief, but I regret the number of Saturdays I worked while my children were young that I could have spent with them.”

I feel the same about my law career, but at least I have a chance now to spend time with my granddaughters and help my daughter meet the demands of her life and demanding career.

My friend leaving for South Florida was given a fond farewell by the women who worked alongside her for many years, making sure the refreshments for countless museum events were ample and lovely. They were, and she helped make that so.

We can help each other make these transitions by showing kindness and appreciation for what those in transition have given.                                                                                                                    

— Linda Colvard Dorian, a retired attorney, lives in DeLand. She is a member of the Museum of Art - DeLand.

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