all of the selves we Have ever been
During my recent musings about Nancy Drew,
I contacted several members of my unofficial Nancy Drew fan club and asked them to share their memories about our beloved teenage detective. Each woman eagerly shared still vivid memories about Nancy Drew and the entire series of books. We felt like kids again swapping tales and recreating the excitement of all that youthful sleuthing.
While reading remains my favorite past time and greatest pleasure, no fictional character has ever filled the gap left when I outgrew the Nancy Drew mystery series. Pondering this I asked a fellow fan, “Who might be a new Nancy Drew for this stage of life?”
My friend considered the question for several minutes and came back with, “Jessica Fletcher?”
Jessica Fletcher? More pondering. Could Jessica Fletcher be a new sleuthing idol for my geriatric years? I had been a Jessica Fletcher fan and regular viewer of Murder, She Wrote. Every Sunday night for 12 years beginning in 1984, I and 30 to 40 million other people tuned in to CBS to see what Jessica Fletcher was up to that week.
I did love that Jessica Fletcher was a smart, fearless, bike-riding, world-traveling, single gal. It didn’t hurt that she was a successful mystery writer and crack amateur sleuth. Just as I envied Nancy Drew and her small town, speedy blue roadster, good friends, and apparent lack of homework and curfews, I envied Jessica Fletcher’s lifestyle: retired, free of obligations, surrounded by the beauty of coastal Maine, living in a big house in the small town of Cabot Cove, a town where everybody knew her name and the sheriff stopped by for coffee, a place where a woman could safely get around town on a bicycle.
Jessica sure seemed to have it all, but a substitute for Nancy Drew? It just wasn’t working for me. I guess the kid in me expects an old high school English teacher to have all of the answers. Nothing to marvel at there. The grown-up in me is not surprised when a mature, educated woman is self-assured and wise, capable of freely traveling the world as a best-selling mystery writer. And the final obstacle? Jessica Fletcher’s life was not about mystery; it was about murder. No matter where Jessica went, someone died. While I enjoy a good adventure, I am not fearless. I tend to shy away from homicides. I don’t want to risk getting into the line of fire or spending my golden years in the slammer.
Who can take Nancy Drew’s place? My guess is that no one can. Some things and some people are irreplaceable. Another mystery solved. But Nancy Drew’s influence continues. She provided me with many happy memories. Memories are the currency of the geriatric years. The puzzle has become how to hang onto them.
Often, we fail to value remembering until we begin to forget. I hope I never forget Nancy Drew or the names of my children or where I live. Until someone solves the really big mystery of Alzheimer’s Disease, I guess Jessica Fletcher does make a pretty good role model for growing older with grace and vigor.