Not very often, but every once in a while, I miss the halcyon days of my youth. We lived in a rural community—or as we called it in those days, “out in the sticks”.
Country living for us wasn’t graceful or privileged. This was back in the day when the wealthy still congregated to the cities, and the poor lived out on the land.
My father had died when I was 8 years old—he was barely 46. My mother, a nurse, worked at one of the hospitals in the city, about thirty minutes from home. Up until I hit grade six, I’d never been on a school bus, and didn’t even know they made male teachers.
In the spring – May and June – our air was filled with the smell of lilacs, lily of the valley, tulips and the fresh scrubbed aroma of rain. We had a term for that after-showers scented breeze . We called it, “fresh air”.
I miss the scent of fresh air nearly as much as I miss my parents. When I was 21, my mother passed away at the far-too young age of 56 – just three months shy of her 57th birthday.
I’ve been thinking these things lately because, as of today, I have lived to be 39 days older than my mother. I’d already passed the first milestone—living to be older than my father—nearly a decade ago.
This latest milestone is one I was never certain that I would reach. I’d had a heart attack when I was 48, followed a few months later by emergency triple by-pass surgery. That surgery proved hard on me and I had a very long and difficult recovery.
As I was recovering, I honestly didn’t believe I’d live more than a couple of years more.
Of course, the jury is still out on that one, isn’t it? None of us knows how long we’re to have here on this earth. The uncertainty of life is something we don’t really become aware of until we’re older, or until we have our own mortality held up in front of our faces.
Time moves faster now than it ever did. The days speed past, and sometimes I wonder how I can let even a moment slip by. Some days, there’s such a sense of urgency inside me. The clock is ticking. Will I get everything done that I want to do? Will I be able to look back, satisfied that my time wasn’t wasted?
I try not to worry over much about it. Sometimes, if you focus too hard on the tiniest details, you miss the big picture. I try to spend my time as wisely as I can, and I try never to pass up an opportunity to lend a hand to someone else. I try to take care of the things—and people—I’ve been entrusted with, and try very hard not to take my foul moods (I do have them) out on others.
And yes, maybe I do waste time, just a little, or so it might seem on the surface. If I’m exhausted, I nap. I may take my morning coffee outside, sit on my front porch, and just watch the sunlight dapple through the trees and the squirrels and birds hard at work.
Sometimes I play silly games on my computer, just for the hell of it.
Maybe the secret to living the best life you can live is to find a good balance between meeting your responsibilities to others, and meeting your responsibilities to yourself.
And always, always being your own best friend.
LOVE UNDER TWO FLYBOYS – LUSTY, TEXAS 4