Monday, September 26, 2005

Wisdom and Aging

I haven't reached the point of wisdom. Old people seem to eventually accept their fate - the same fate that we all share - and in doing so become wise. Or at least they appear to. Maybe they just become delirious, and I only wish I was joking.

An electrician-friend pulled my fat out of the fire this weekend, talking me through some electrical work that I had never done before. I can now add "has installed a sub-panel" to my list of things I've done. I then wired in a whole bunch of light fixtures, and punched that new circuit into my new sub-panel. It was quite a weekend. Fixed two sinks and a toilet, did all of that electrical work, buffed out some scratches (keyed) from the Honda, waxed the hood of same. Entertained guests on Saturday night, and had a house full of screaming children, good wine, and fun. Enjoyed my kids. Even had time to see a comedian on Sunday night.

This is the marrow of life. This is the high water mark. To have the knowledge, skills, opportunity, and means to do all of these things - this is what you dream about when you are 18.

But what you don't realize is that you can already see the other side of the hill. it's a nagging feeling that's starting to whisper in my ear, early in the morning.

Shane died last weekend. You didn't know Shane. To me, however, he's the son of a good and dear friend. I first met Shane when he was 5 or 6 years old. A tow-headed kid with blue eyes, who was crazy about soccer. He referred to me, always, as "Mister," even when I wasn't used to being called that by anyone. He was a great kid. Polite, funny - magnificent.

Shane died in a motorcycle accident. No known cause; no other vehicles involved. Maybe he swerved to miss a deer; maybe he fell asleep (it was late); maybe anything. His father and mother are exactly how you expect them to be. I only hope their marriage holds up. I've seen this before, when my wife worked with Cancer Patients, and even very, very good marriages routinely buckle under the guilt/anger/desolation of losing a child. We'll see.

I just had another friend I work with rule out ovarian cancer. It's benign, but we didn't know that before she went in to have the tumor removed. Ovarian cancer is very, very bad news, and my friend will now be screened for it every year. She is a "candidate," and will have to live with that knowledge. Perhaps this is where wisdome comes from. Perhaps hearing the footsteps when they are still very distant is where it begins.

I'm not looking to be morose. Just reflective. The hard part about aging isn't the occassional ache or pain. It's finally seeing your dreams really come true while, simultaneously, realizing that it's borrowed time. Realizing that your time here isn't eternal and that you must give way so that your children can walk the same path.

I'm a Christian man, as you probably know, and it's certainly sinful to mourn your own aging. It's the sin of pride. The sin of "me." It's the original sin, in fact. Guilty as charged, I suppose.

But it's quite a Monday when you look back at all of the amazing things you've done over the past two days just to hear that a 21 year old man-child, who had finally done the first adult thing he wanted to do (he was the captain of his team), won't be home for Thanksgiving.

He was an only child. The only child my friend and his wife had. Both of the women I know who have just ruled out CA were under 40, each with quite a few children.

Keep the Faith, ladies and gentlemen. Life *is* good, but it's not easy. That is for sure...


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