Tomorrow. i turn 74 tomorrow. As with 73, this isn’t a big deal for most. It just means another year older. 75. That’s some big deal. Three quarters of a century. Right now, getting to this one is my focus.
The trip i just made to Austin and back in five days made it a big deal. With all that time to think on the return drive, i decided to grow up. Oh, i won’t stop being goofy or politically incorrect or a contrarian or a pocket of resistance, but i am changing some things.
i want to spend of the rest of my life, not wasting time, being as good a man as i can be, and doing the right thing.
This is tough in a world i know longer recognize. My world of yesteryear (man, that hurts to write that) wasn’t much better if you look at all aspects, but it was mine. And you know what, i’m really sort of tired of people revising history to meet their needs, their goals, without regard to the humanity of the people in the past. There are wonderful historians out there who are trying to delve into the past in an honest, forthright way, to help all of us have a better idea of where we came from. My niece Kate Jewell is one of those. i just finished her book, Dollars for Dixie, and it does service to our past and allows us to learn.
i also realized on that trip, i am an antecedent. Those younger than me don’t listen to my ravings because they don’t know what i’m talking about. i shy away from being concerned because each older generation has worried about the next one going to hell in a handbasket, but i do have concerns. There seems to be a whole lot more of non-think, adopting a cause or an idea because someone cool suggested it or some media of some kind intimated it was good. And then it becomes a passionate cause. That scares me.
It bothers me we seem intent on proving what we believe when believing, faith is enough. You can’t prove it, regardless of what you believe. Quit trying. I have.
It doesn’t matter because i’m not going to change those younger folks. i am amazed so many people my age are ranting and raving, and even, god forbid, trying to influence the mass of politic behind us, like being politicians when they should be in old age homes resting on their laurels.
Here’s my thought on this: i recognize i am not as fast thinking as i used to be, just like i’m not as physically able as i used to be. i view my role from here on out is providing succor for the younger folks, not trying to make them do what i think they should do. i hope some of them gain some insight from my recollections, stories, and observations. i’m not sure they are in the receive mode. So i also hope folks my age will simply enjoy my stuff and remember their own good times.
i have had many loves, many heroes, many adventures, and many good memories to share. i have had a good life, relatively unique because i never could quite figure out what i really wanted to be other than a good husband and a good father. Sometimes those desires have worked out quite well. Other times, they weren’t so hot.
You know what? That’s life.
My other goal is to be as much like my parents in aging as i can be given the different conditions. They did it differently, but they did it together, right up until the last nine months of eighty years of a marvelous relationship. They lived in a small Southern town and were working too hard to be successful, raise their children right, than to consider the moral conundrom continuing to plague the South today.
My mother had illnesses plaguing her from at least since i was about twelve. Allergies, asthma, over-medication, bone problems, and on and on and on. But she dealt with them with defiance, doing what she wanted to do, loving her family, being exact and with an incredible memory right up to the night i spent with her in the hospital until she went into that final sleep. She lived a good, an incredible life.
My father? Well, i guess you probably know how i feel about him. He had yellow fever when he was seven, damn near died, lost three years of school. After that? Had kidney stones in the mid-50’s, the only in-patient time he spent in a hospital, a week (during the yellow fever combat, he had a care-giver attend to him in the family home) until his last two months of living. Stayed amazingly healthy all of his life while eating eggs, toast, butter, jam, sausage or bacon, coffee, coffee, coffee, all things fried, steak, pies, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, chocolate. Everyone i know called him a “good man.”
And everyone thought he was the neatest man in the world, primarily because if he wasn’t, he was in the top ten.
Well, i am a combination of the two of them, just like my sister Martha and my brother Joe. i am honest in my assessment i will never quite reach their pinnacles of living a good life. Maybe i could have but i left, wanderlust, whatever. No problem really. i have accepted i have spent my life as a vagabond, a renegade, a wanderer, a wonderer. Some really nice folks have tagged me as a renaissance man. i think i’m a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.
My father gave me his thoughts about his age in our garage when he was 87. We were working on a project. i tried to capture his thoughts in short poem. i have posted it before, but to reflect on how i understand what he was getting at, here it is:
Two men, father and son
hunched over a work bench
a number of years ago;
working on a project quietly
in the glare of the naked bulb
hanging above their heads;
they talked a bit,
focusing on the task at hand,
smiling quietly at the bond
they continued to build;
the old man with thick strong hands said,
“You know, son,
i’ve led a pretty good life,
got three good kids who have grown up well,
some good grandchildren,
‘bout the only thing I hope now
is when I go,
it’ll be quick.”
That’s where i am. Just gotta try to live the rest of it like they did. Regally. Right.
So good night all. i will wake in the Southwest corner just after i was born, 7:30 a.m. CST, January 19, 1944, seventy-four years ago. My plan is to write a lot.
But tomorrow, i will be working on fixing my approach shots, chips, and putts. i’ll still be a lousy golfer, but i have fun.
May all of you have a good day on my birthday.