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What happens between the date of birth and the date of death is said to be LIFE. Although my tombstone does not have a dash, I like to think of the time that has been my life. It was really a journey and I'm not done yet.
First of all, everyone has a life story. No, not everyone is worthy of the press, but the dash never represents your life story. Today I would like everyone to think about what their life story has been.
Did you make the most of the opportunities that came to you? Have you done the best you could do in these circumstances? Did you make your life count in some way? We will all have to stand in front of our producer at some point and account for what we have done or what we have not done. Sometimes by omission you choose not to do something. It's okay as long as it was the right thing to do at the time.
For the past 25 years I have led a very public life. I wrote about things that were my life.
Omissions in my life mean as much as what has been included. I learned that when I think of someone, it means I have to pray for that person. Later I find out what the need was. I can pray even when I don't know the specific need. The Lord knows it and my thoughts simply echo his.
How many times have I thought about calling someone and not having done so? How many times have I said a hasty prayer on my way somewhere? How many times have I prayed that someone would not receive an answer to my prayer? Then I think: maybe an answer was given and I didn't notice. Not all prayers are answered in the way we consider appropriate.
I understand that some of you may be reading this column for the first time. I grew up in a single parent family. My mother was solely responsible for raising me.
My father has contributed nothing but my genes. Did I let her hold me back? I don't think I did. I've always seen the best of things. My mom never hurt my dad's mouth, despite the way she acted. I deserve a lot because it could have been bitter. All he wanted was the best for me.
Life hasn't always gone well for me. I didn't get the job I wanted. I couldn't have the clothes I wanted. Even in my love life, I didn't get the man of my dreams. What I got was a man who could be trusted. A man who was a good father to our children.
Life on the farm has been tough. We lost many things because there was work to be done. I went to work to look after my family. My husband provided money, but there was no insurance or pension. My work has provided both of these things.
On the back of things, I have to say thank you for my work. When my husband died young, it was an advantage. I'm still reaping the rewards.
To say that I never intended to become a farmer's wife is an understatement. Thought never entered my mind. Those years at the fair when I exercised a calf or cut my toenails or cleaned it, all of this was new to me.
I became an agricultural writer. My first job was with a weekly article where I made features for them. I went out and talked to the farmers, so I produced an article on their farm. The only experience I had to do was my years of English in high school and college. When I did my first interview, I didn't even have a camera. I borrowed one to be able to get an image for the function.
From that humble beginning I advanced and in the end I had a column. Having a column was a wonderful experience. I have met so many people. Often people communicate via email or even through regular mail. Facebook has also opened up new readers. People find me and write to me.
I have produced five books. Two were cookbooks complete with annotated recipes and personal family experiences. A book spoke of pain. I produced it a year after my husband died. It is my most spiritual with my first year experiences alone. I have two books with articles similar to the ones I do in my address book.
Most of my books have been sold through craft shows and when I'm out talking to groups. I think this is because people connect with me. They want to meet me.
When my husband died, I received nearly three hundred cards, many from people who knew me only through my address book. What a blessing it was to feel their love and respect.
My dash has been complete. I have had so many wonderful experiences that I cannot count them. Not everything I did was perfect. I made mistakes like everyone else. I am human.
I found a piece on Facebook that spoke to me. It was from the power of positivity. He says, "Love your life. Take pictures of everything. Of the people you love. Talk to random strangers. Do things you are afraid to do. Many of us die and nobody remembers what we did." Take your life and make it the best story in the world. Don't waste it. "
Post scriptum I wrote this piece partially when I found that quote. The Lord provides. It says what I wanted to say better than I could have said.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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