The bottom line is this – getting old is great, unless you think about it.
The reality of turning 57 this Sunday has sunk in.
After that many years of doing oxygen, I’m supposed to have life figured out. But I don’t. In fact, I probably have more questions than ever.
Like most folks pushing the deadline on their sixth decade of existence, I have been getting in touch with my mortality - acknowledging I’m suddenly on the downside of life’s hourglass.
Of late, it seems I know less than I thought I did, question things I never used to contemplate, don’t understand ‘kids these days’, can’t believe the price of milk or gas, wonder what ever happened to what’s her name, and have no idea where I left my keys and wallet.
Yes – aging and the reality of it all can be a little harsh on the psyche. However, all the realties and navel gazing aside I really have few regrets with my world - except for not buying that little house on the beach near Bear Creek in 1973. (Admittedly, if I ‘had known then what I know now’ I also would have bought a hell of a lot more Bobby Orr rookie hockey cards than I did).
As mentioned last week, the mere fact that I am even around to celebrate my 57th birthday is nothing more than a miracle. I really am the luckiest person I know.
I’ve pontificated that line many times before, however some personal recollections the past few days have reconfirmed that belief. Quite simply, my life is blessed.
I learned early about getting involved, helping others, and caring about the world, from some great people – particularly my Mom and Dad. No one was wiser in a gentle, humble way than my Mom - and few people gave to their community or advocated for others like my Dad. I grew up in that environment.
I was also very lucky and fortunate to have other folks step into my world and help me when I needed it.
The best moment in my life, though, was close to my last.
Some 25 years ago I found myself sitting in a lonely hospital room in Vancouver with a bleak scenario facing me. The tumour in my voice box area had been causing me a lot of difficulty and the doctors a lot of concern.
There was no way of knowing if it was malignant or not and the decision had been made to blast it out with laser. At that time laser use, especially in the voice box and throat area, was still in its ‘learning’ stages.
Surgery was set for early in the morning and even if I survived there were no guarantees of what they would find. I was pretending to be brave but I was suddenly very afraid and very alone. I recognized I was perhaps seeing my last night alive.
So I did what many folks do at such time.
I fell down on my knees and I prayed. (It’s easy to face your faith when you have everything to lose and everything to gain).
I was no stranger to conversations with Christ and God, yet like many, my belief had waned back and forth over the years. However, it was back in full force that night and has never left since.
Regardless, I asked for another chance to serve the world and the Lord better.
I promised three things: I would never take another day of life for granted, never again allow anger to rule my life, and I’d truly dedicate my life to making this world a better place.
I never had to write those three promises down – they were burned into my brain and heart that evening.
When I woke up the next day after the operation the first face I saw was my surgeon. The smile on his face told me everything I needed to know. By the grace of God and the brilliant hands of a fine surgeon the world was stuck with me a little longer.
Twenty-five years later I have a great radio voice, few problems with the throat, and much to the chagrin of many, have learned to talk again. Best of all I can count on less than one hand the number of times I might have forgotten my promise since ‘that’ night.
I am the luckiest man I know because I have a world of amazing friends, fabulous family, a wonderful wife, house full of animals, and a community full of fine folks.
My joy in life is largely because of a conscious effort to keep a commitment, precipitated by a promise and a ‘plea bargain’ some 25 years ago.
Life really is all about choices.
I have not forgotten mine, and will do my best not to forget for as long as I am fortunate enough to be here.
That makes me the luckiest man I know.
I just wish I had bought more Bobby Orr rookie cards.