It is 9:38 pm. Moments before sitting in my chair I was laying on the floor nose to nose with our 2-year-old golden retriever, Poppy. I have just completed 40 pushups and planked to the count of 80. I feel weaker than I did before my kidney surgery last October, but at the same time feel that I am slowly gaining back strength.
Tonight I am 69-years-old. Tomorrow I will be 70. I have vivid memories from when I was in my 30’s of how old 70-year-old people were back then. By the way…wasn’t that almost yesterday? I also remember how difficult the night before I turned 50 was for me. It seemed like a huge jump back then. Fifty was old!
Frankly, I feel similar this evening. Going from 60 to 70 is not just a minor leapfrog move. It feels chasm-like. But oddly enough, this move is not as big as the 40 to 50 jump was. No matter what our age, our task is to keep walking into that “dark night”…gently or not so gently, but keep walking. The gently way would be to sit on the sofa and watch re-runs of Bonanza all day. I know of some who do that. But neither my body nor my mind would appreciate that level of inactivity. No, if I want to feel stronger I will simply have to work for it. But then, perhaps, tomorrow, when I am 70 I will change my mind.
Good night 60’s
It is 6:45 am and I am now 70-years-old. Once again I am on the carpet nose to nose with Poppy. After all she was bred for loving! I ponder my feelings of last evening and realize I was looking backwards. I was reviewing the many thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of my years of life. I had an incredible number of dusty pictures pop onto my internal slide screen today. Most have been positive and joyful. Other mental pictures we incredibly sad. Many of the pictures struck pride in things I have accomplished in life. I would giggle at others and fume at a few.
What I know for sure is that all these pictures in my head are just that…pictures. Memories are ours to hold. Isn’t it interesting that even for most who suffer from dementia are left with their distant history mostly intact, even if they can’t remember what happened ten minutes ago? Of course we do not know what tomorrow will look like, but we do know what yesterday looked like…for better or for worse.
The primary difference between yesterday and today…between 69 and 70 is perspective. Yesterday I was looking backwards; today I am looking forward. Because my father died at age 70 I have taken pause for thought of my future. As most people I didn’t think much about dying when I was younger, at say age 30. Beyond the normal immortal thinking of youth, I had an added perspective. When I was 15-years-old I joined a conservative religious church (considered a cult by some). Over and over again I was taught about the “soon and literal return of Jesus to earth”. The key word was “soon”. Jesus was to take all his believers to heaven, thus sparing them death. Even though this belief originated some 2000 years ago, it was re-emphasized in the mid 1800’s and still exists today. This belief is often referred to as the “blessed hope”.
At one level this belief was wonderful. It provided unusual hope. We who were living in the “last days” would be spared death. That is a very powerful message! However, at another level, the same belief became horribly painful when person after person who stridently believed in that message, died. Death after death after death began to dispel the teaching to many. Oh yes the “faithful” continue to believe they may never die, but…
Even though I re-thought that 2000 year-old belief some time ago, turning 70 has for some reason thrown the reality of death smack into my face once again. Yep, I will die. No idea when but I will die. The question is whether I will spend my life waiting to die or spend it living fully? Personally I choose a full life.
My fingers are on the keyboard yet once again. It was 100 years ago today that my father was born. Oddly until today I have never tried to imagine him as a newborn. I am still struggling with that particular picture. He was born in a small dark cabin in Harrison, Arkansas. The house had no power, no internal plumbing, and only a dirt floor. He would later tell the story about how, at about age 5, he accidentally knocked over the oil lamp and burn down the cabin. He dropped out of school in 6th grade. He would grow to be an illiterate but very intelligent man. He was the type of father you wanted to be marooned on a desert island with, as opposed to a philosopher.
My father died 30 years ago. He was 70. He was 30 when I was born the day before his birthday. I was 30-years-old when our daughter Autumn was born. Man, there are a lot of 30’s going on! The numerologist could have a field day with this. What I want to do today on his 100th birthday is honor him. Today I will light a candle for him and be grateful for all the positive things he gave me.
It is great to have the perspective of 70 years!