I remember when I was a little kid and someone told me that they were in their twenties I thought, “WOW!! You’re OLD!!” Now, being in my mid-30’s, I have a completely different perspective on what is actually considered “old,” let alone “OLD!!” With each birthday I celebrate, I realize that the higher the qualification for “old” becomes. I find myself looking into the eyes of an elder trying to imagine what they have seen throughout their lifetime. This week I held my friend’s eight month old son and began to wonder what lies in store for him. How will his experiences differ from mine? Is there any way to prevent him from going through some of the heartaches I have faced? As I write this, I am pondering what my future holds. Will history repeat itself? Will I make some of the same mistakes over and over or will I finally learn from them? What important people in my life have I yet to meet? Of the people currently in my life, who am I meant to know only for a reason…a season…a lifetime? Questions like these have been playing over in my head for a while now, but with recent events, I find that they have been brought more to the forefront.
Today I spent some time with Mike, a childhood friend. It’s been quite a while since we last saw each other, but just his name brings back memories. We both attended the same school from about 3rd grade until we graduated. I can recall in 6th grade, after breaking up with my first boyfriend, getting home and hearing the phone ring. When I answered it, I found myself talking to either Mike or his buddy…I can’t remember who called first. Anyways, each of the boys was calling for the other one to see if I would “go with” the boy not on the phone. Sadly, I turned them both down. While sitting with Mike today, I brought up this memory of mine and it put a smile on his face. After all, that was around 25 years ago!! It warmed my heart to get to share this memory I have of the two of us with him after all these years. It meant even more to me that he smiled after hearing it because he is currently at home on hospice care just a short walk from my parents’ house and is now unable to speak. I shared with him and his mom what has been going on in my life. Mike lay in bed and gave us the occasional “thumbs up” which made his mom and I both smile. He yawned a few times and I’d see a tear stream down his face as they usually do when I’m tired. Each time this happened I gently wiped the tear away with my hand. Looking back, I know this tender moment will remain in my heart forever. After a little while longer I could see his fatigue setting in and knew it was time to end my visit. I kissed him on the forehead and told him that I’ll be back to see him next weekend. I hugged his mom and saw my way out so she wouldn’t have to leave his side.
As I walked back to my childhood home I said a prayer for him. I was so very grateful that I was able to spend some time together after all these years…I just wished it wasn’t under these circumstances. I will never understand why these things happen. After all, I don’t consider myself old…from my standards…and here I find myself visiting with someone who is my age and whose struggles I will never be able to fully understand.
A few hours later, my parents, my brother and I went out for a late dinner to celebrate my dad’s upcoming 70th birthday on Monday. There was no cake, no singing, and no party hats, but rather the four of us sitting around a table enjoying each other’s company. We all joke that my dad is so old that he has the recipe for dirt, but even though I know he will soon be 70, I don’t consider him old by any means. I felt so grateful that we could all be together at this milestone in my dad’s life. Of course it would have been better had my husband and my sister and her husband been there to join us, but nonetheless we took pleasure in the fact that we were all eating a meal as a family. It brought me back to my earlier visit and I realized just how precious this occasion was.
I’ve found that the older I get the more appreciative I am of the family and friends I have…even with all our quirks. Seeing Mike today has made that even more apparent. I would like to think that more good times than bad lay ahead, but that’s the optimist in me talking. There is no way to know what is in store for me or anyone else for that matter, but however things work out in the end, I’ve decided that love will always be a good place to start.