“A Window on the World,” Nov. 7, 2017

Lucky me. My husband and I are spending time in a cottage by Monterey Bay in California, visiting our kids and grandkids and friends in the area. It’s like being on a cruise ship without the motion sickness and shuffleboard tournaments.

Today, I am doing what my grandmothers loved to do: Staring out the window to see what I can see — and thinking about a nagging question.

More about the question later. First, about my grandmothers: My mother’s mother lived on the main street of a small town in North Carolina. Her living room window gave her a view of people passing by on their way to the post office or grocery store or wherever.

Having raised 10 children (nine talkative girls and one timid boy) she was fascinated by people and their stories.

“Look,” she’d say, pointing to a passerby. “Where’s he’s been? What’s he got in that sack? How much you reckon he paid for it?”

Sometimes a neighbor would stop to visit and they’d sit on the porch swapping gossip, while I sat at their feet pretending not to eavesdrop. I loved it.

My dad’s mother lived on a farm in the mountains. From her kitchen window, she watched birds at a feeder she filled with cornbread; storms that raged in summer; leaves that turned crimson in fall; snow that sifted down in winter like powdered sugar on a cake.

Having spent all her life in those mountains, raising a family and tending a farm, she was fascinated by nature.

“Look,” she’d say, pointing to a cardinal at the feeder or morning glories by the fence or water rising in the creek after a downpour. “Isn’t that a sight?”

Sometimes we’d go for walks on the mountain. She’d lead the way, tossing snakes out of our path with her snake stick, introducing me to flora and fauna as if we were distant kin at a family reunion. I loved it.

All of that’s to say this. I share my grandmothers’ fascinations. I love people and nature. I study them, as my grandmothers did, to see what I can learn about this sweet old world I call home.

From the window in this cottage, I look out on a dazzling blue bay dotted with sea otters and pelicans and sailboats; in the garden, white-winged butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds dance above dusty pink roses; in the bushes, a yellow-eyed cat hunts for anything she can get.

I watch a parade of people, young or old, alone or in pairs, who pass on the street or the recreation trail along the shore. I pretend not to eavesdrop on their conversations. I wonder about their lives, where they’ve been, where they’re going, what’s inside their backpacks and how much they paid for it. I long to know their stories.

A question I have often asked over the years, when going off to college, getting married, raising children, losing a husband and starting over, time and again, is this: What’s my purpose in this stage of my life? Why am I here?

Lately, I’ve been asking it again. My children are grown. My husband is retired. I love having the freedom to spend time with family and friends and to chase our six grandchildren. But I often have the feeling that I ought to be doing more.

Some of us get to live longer than others do. I don’t know why. All I know is life is a gift. I want to live it well. So I keep asking, why am I here?

Imagine my surprise to learn the answer from my 6-year-old grandson.

Recently, Henry’s kindergarten teacher told his mom that he had shared something “very profound” in class that day. The class was reading a story, she said, about living things and oxygen, when Henry raised his hand.

“I’ve been trying to figure out why humans are here on Earth,” he said, “and I just did. We’re here to help other living things.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

I’ll count on Henry and his cousins and the view out my window to help me remember, at any age, any stage of life, we are all here to help.


  1. Linda Stockton says

    Just, “Thank You,” for your column. You always touch my heart. Today, this grandma thinks your Henry is as wonderful as you do!

  2. Sally Merrill says

    Thank you for a wonderful story, once again! I always enjoy listening to what your heart has to say! I need to have my 98 year old Mother read this one since she always asks why she is still here when all of her siblings and my late Father’s siblings have passed away. Thanks to your sweet Henry I can remind her why she’s still here.

  3. On top of everything else Sharon, you are a wonderful mentor to others. That is huge. Don’t ever question what else you should be doing. Just keep on being You! God bless you.

  4. Another beautiful story. You are here to put into words what the rest of us
    are thinking, but don’t have the skill to share like you do. Thank you for
    another uplifting column.

  5. Roxann young says

    You’re here, dear Sharon, to bring awareness. To all of us, if we choose to take the bait. Every time I read your column, I cannot wait for your next one. Thank goodness you are passing your gift of appreciation for all of life’s experiences down to your grands. Sweet, tender, loving Henry. Thank you always.

  6. Shirley Atwood says

    You are here to bless others, make us think, smile, or wipe a tear. And to be with your babies’ babies. We are so grateful for you!

  7. Thank you Sharon sharing your sweet or not so sweet memories. I love my grand children. But someday I just wonder about my own purpose. All are so busy in their own problems and it really hurts when they drag me in them. This world has some angels who can inspire to stay busy with what comes in our way. Writers do this job so well. And you explain every incident so clearly that it really happened in front of our eyes.

  8. Tina Treffer says

    I wish my old aged hearing was good enough to hear what the people passing by are saying and talking about.
    I truly enjoy reading your stories you share while on your life’s jorney. There is an amazing parallel with the lives with many of your readers. Thank you for helping the living. It’s nice to know someone else out in the world shares many of the same questions, thoughts and experiences. We are not on this cruise ship alone.

    God bless you sweet Lady!

  9. Tommie Waters says

    Your column is such a treat. I love reading it on Sunday in the Bristol
    Herald Courier. Your themes are so easy to identify with because I also have
    6grandchildren, grew up in Southwestern Va. , have good friends, and 2brothrs and a
    Sister. Thank you for making me laugh, shed a tear sometimes, and shake my head in agreement.

  10. Kate Sciacca says

    Yes, we are all here to help. It was great fun helping son #2 with his three older kids while #4 was on the way. Watching his oldest stand against the wall (just as he did, 30 years ago) waiting for his Kindergarten teacher open the door and start the new day with “a handshake, a hug or a high five!” Dropping his sister at preschool, dressed in her Sunday best for picture day, was pure joy. And the youngest, two years old, saying “grandma, watch this!” over and over… can’t ever tire of that ?
    Have to focus on those beautiful moments when I hear of faithful Christians slaughtered while they praised God… where evil abounds, grace abounds even more.

  11. Elaine mccaffery says

    I just love your stories. When things seem blue which they often do at my age, just looking forward to reading and closing my eyes and try to imagine all the wonders you pen. Somehow your stories always gives me peace. I too love to write. So I journal almost everyday. Plus it keeps me sane. Cheaper than a head doctor lol. I often wonder what keeps you in the state you live in now your husband is retired. Seems like your heart and joy is with both your grandchildren. Hope you have a great week , and thanks again for your columns.

Speak Your Mind