Forty-two years ago, I was 30 years old. On my birthday, I found great comfort that I would not retire from work for another 35 years and had many exciting moments ahead of me. My employer at the time forced retirement at age 65. Little did I realize how quickly the time would go by.
My career had its ups and downs, but generally it was pretty good. My health was never an issue in the old days. I began to have annual checkups, and they were uneventful, a pain in the small of my back, wisdom teeth removed and such.
As the years passed, I was seeing doctors more often. The increase was barely discernible in the beginning, but now it’s all encompassing. Our bodies start to scream out for more attention as we move past 60. Hopefully, our problems are few and minor, but the doctors keep testing and probing until they find things that, at worst, will kill you, and at best, are annoying episodes that temporarily disrupt your life.
The luckiest among us have a partner to share the good times and the bad times. When you area older, you naturally worry that that he or she will precede you into heaven. When someone dotes over you for 30 or more years, you really start to depend on them for their wisdom and assistance (and everything).
Of course, there’s usually an extended family involved, children and grandchildren, to afford comfort and make good memories. But, at some point the young people must find their own happiness and will have limited time to give to you as life becomes more difficult and threatening.
Personally, I believe in the afterlife. I refuse to accept that 70, 80 or 90 years of life is the extent of our existence. Anticipating a new beginning at death makes the expectation of our demise more acceptable. In fact, religion and spirituality, I think, were created precisely for the purpose of ushering us into a new life. But I give those who believe death is the final moment of our existence great credibility.
You may ask why I’m writing this diatribe about life and death. I really don’t want to stick my head in the sand. I want to embrace my demise as just another moment in life, the last one. I want to be philosophical about the reality that everyone who lives must also die. I want to be brave when my time comes and give my loved ones the courage to face their ultimate reality.
As I lived my life, I came to understand that a man or a woman is ultimately judged by how they deal with problems during their lives not by how they respond to good times. No one cares how many deals a person does or how much money they accumulate. Rather, it’s the quality of your life, the beauty of your children, your legacies that you leave behind. Were you charitable? Did you help others? Did you create things that made other lives more livable and happier? These are the things that make your family and friends proud to have known you.
In the meantime, as I find my way through the 70s, I intend to weather my inconsequential aches and pains from football and rugby, enjoy my family, tried to talk about and think about important issues and prepare myself for whatever the good Lord has in store for me.