Do you ever think about your later life? I never did. I am surprised to find myself nearing my eightieth year. I am surprised about almost everything that happens now. I suppose most guys think about their later life when choosing life insurance and career paths. I doubt they think about the way their past will look in the future.
I’ve lived in a few different cities and countries, so I didn’t keep in touch with the people I knew from high school and teenage activities. Now, in later life, I hear about people I knew. Two girls I dated in high school are long dead. One had become a doctor and the other a music teacher. The music teacher had been my first steady girlfriend. We were ‘a couple’ from ages fifteen to eighteen. We went on dates by bus and streetcar until I got my license to drive.
Learning of the passing of my old girlfriend made me wonder about other people in my long trail of life. Sometimes it’s bad. I had to learn that a best friend who was a successful entertainment lawyer representing big-name stars, is now a disbarred cocaine addict. He and I married identical twins. Another old friend shut me out on facebook and another one shunned me on the street. Now I fear that my old friends didn’t actually like me.
I was not really typical as the rest of the guys and was kind of an oddball to them. I was artsy and creative, not an athlete but a dedicated womanizer. My family was more wealthy than theirs too. Perhaps they didn’t like the way I behaved, and I regret the loss of their positive feelings. I guess they never had positive feelings toward me, but I didn’t know.
On the other hand, some of my mistakes and misjudgements and failures have died with the people who were involved or friends who were aware. Along with the sense of loss of some friends, there is a burden lifted because of the death of others. People who held secrets that I wouldn’t want divulged are dead. If they truly kept the secrets, be they personal or business, then the secrets are safe for eternity.
Be prepared. In later life, memories you didn’t know you had come back to you. You learn of the death of some people whom you loved and regret their passing. You learn of the death of other people and you are relieved that you and some of society are safer because that person is gone.
Some people don’t deal with the aging process well. I had one friend of several decades whose mind began to go astray as we aged. In retrospect, I can recall that he had several peculiar quirks and opinions when we were young that developed into an anti-social way of life. He was intelligent, good looking and a great story teller, but his mind broke. He died earlier this year, and I was glad to hear of it because I’d been concerned as to what became of him. I had employed him for six years on my hobby farm. He was a horse enthusiast and had considerable experience so I had him stay on the farm and look after the horses: four Arabians and one Morgan. He went away sometimes and became less and less diligent around the farm so I took him home to his older brother.
Another episode in my life died with him, and here I am, still kicking. Another friend of about fifty years is near my age and we speak daily on the phone. He lives about three hundred and fifty miles from me and calls me several times a day to just talk. Sometimes current matters, sometimes our favourite sport – formula one – and sometimes we analyse our similar yet different ethnic roots.
I have a brother who is ten years younger than I am. He lives on the other side of the country, about five thousand miles west. He’s coming to visit next month and I’m eager to sit with him and sort out who I am. We had another brother, about halfway between the youngest and me, the oldest. The middle brother passed away a few years ago from leukemia. He didn’t like me much, and I hope the youngest will be able to tell me why.
All these important things happen when one is in the final ten percent of their time in life. The main thing about life is, all you’re given is an unknown amount of time. Any hour could be your last. You know that’s true, in today’s unkempt society. Therefore, every minute should be lived well, as well as possible. Not dedicated to wealth, but dedicated to honour and generosity. Most importantly, do what you like because to do otherwise is to squander the time you’ve been given to live. Live it well.
As Gloria Steinem said: “Most people my age are dead.” It’s truer every day. People keep dying and I’m still here. I wonder why.