Tag Archives: senior citizen

Did You Miss Me?

I’m back from my sabbatical. Did you miss me? Actually, I wasn’t even aware I had taken a sabbatical until it occurred to me that two weeks had come and gone, since posting my last blog, and I hadn’t written a darn thing in my notebook since. Well, at least nothing that exciting or what I would deem as sufficient enough to write home about. I decided I’d better look up the exact meaning of the word, sabbatical, because suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, I began questioning whether or not I truly knew what it meant. Therefore, I got to thinking it was quite possible that I hadn’t been on a sabbatical after all. I wanted to be sure I had been using the funny-sounding word properly.

Wikipedia defines sabbatical as, “a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from 2 months to a year.” In more recent times it has been described as, “any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something.” Wikipedia then cites writing a book as an example of fulfilling one’s goal. That does sound rather appealing to me, but it does not accurately describe what I had done with my time the past couple of weeks. In actuality, I studied the Bible, played a lot of tennis, entertained my lovely wife, and took some naps. I also spent a few days filling out those dreaded state and federal income tax returns.

Maybe I finally had succumbed to the infamous writer’s block I’ve heard so much about but had not yet experienced for myself. I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my entrance into unchartered waters, by becoming a blogger, and my wife renewed my blog site for another year. She originally set up my site in February 2014, as a birthday gift, because she knew I had an opinion about everything, and she also knew how much I enjoyed writing. I happen to be one of those people who still sends birthday greetings and letters via “snail mail” instead of by the more socially acceptable (yet less personable) way of e-mail. Someone has to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

Maybe the self-imposed pressure of consistently writing something worthwhile, for another 365 days, was contributing to my possible writer’s block condition. Maybe my creativity had run its course, or maybe I simply had grown tired of all the recycled “hot topics” in the news of late: the threat of war, denying gay people wedding cakes, “racist cops,” the threat of war, politicians’ incessant but futile rhetoric concerning dismantling President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act legislation, and did I mention the threat of war. Regardless, this past year I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the “good old days,” and whatever else was on my mind, so I have no intention of abandoning ship at this time. Besides, I don’t want to disappoint any of my seven readers.

However, I feared precisely that, off and on for a few days, whenever I’d stare at the blank page in my college-ruled notebook. I found myself searching for a topic to write about in some unconventional places. I even perused an AARP (American Association of Retired People) magazine in hopes of finding anything that might spark my interest. I’m a long ways away from turning 50 (316 days), but I’ve been receiving the bi-monthly publication in the mail for at least a year now. I reckon I shouldn’t be all that traumatized, by being perceived as an elderly gentleman before my time, since around a decade ago some punk kid behind the counter at McDonald’s asked me if I qualified for the restaurant’s senior citizen discount.

I’m pretty sure I responded with, “only if being 40 years-old makes me a senior citizen.” He gave me the discount. Ouch! I suppose I shouldn’t have been so upset with the young employee’s nonsense because I too was once ignorant regarding the concept of age when I was a youngster. I recall such ignorance when I was in my early twenties, and I came across the obituary section of the local newspaper. After noticing a person had died at the age of 52, I remember thinking to myself, “well, at least he had a good, long life.” I no longer find that sentiment to be true especially since I’m approaching the Big 5-0 myself.

Anyway, I typically begin my writing process after either recalling something from my past or hearing about something interesting, controversial, or appalling in the news. I’ll usually jot down a sentence or two in my notebook, rarely an entire paragraph, and once in a while I’ll just write down a possible title for my blog. More often than not the title changes before the process is completed. I’m constantly trying to find the perfect sentence, so the pages in my spiral notebook contain more arrows than Cupid’s quiver, and they have more scratch marks than the cars entered in a demolition derby. Highlighting, arranging, researching, rearranging, and then tweaking is all part of my writing process. All of this, of course, is done while sipping coffee at Starbucks.

Then comes the hardest part of all. This one-finger typist transfers all of his written words onto the computer screen for anyone to see. My wife has offered (many times) to type my blogs for me. I did take her up on her generous offer in the beginning, but after my first two posts I felt as though the finished product wasn’t completely mine. I guess I’m willing to sacrifice, the couple of hours I’d save, for the satisfaction of seeing the entire project through from start to finish. My blogs definitely are a labor of love. Hopefully, I’m finally over my writer’s block, if indeed that’s what it was, so you won’t have to miss me again.


Death

I almost died recently, or maybe I didn’t depending on how one regards the situation. Two weeks ago, before the crack of dawn, I was driving through a residential neighborhood, on my way to Starbucks, so I could do some writing. As I was approaching an intersection a pick-up truck not only ran through a stop sign, right in front of me, but it was also traveling at an extremely high rate of speed. I did not have a stop sign, so a mere second or two sooner and I would not have been able to avoid being hit broadside. Death does not discriminate. It knows no sex, race, age, or good from evil. We don’t always know when to expect it, but we do expect it because it is the circle of life, and no one is immune.

I remember my Grandpa Nolin telling me, when I was in my early twenties, how quickly time goes by. It was around that same time when I used to think, after hearing someone had passed away in their fifties, “oh well, at least they had a good, long life.” Now that I’m older, and getting painfully closer to that magic number, I no longer believe fifty is old. I’m also well aware my grandpa was absolutely correct about life being so fleeting. I know a widowed Christian woman who loves God, and when she was in her fifties had said she would rather be with her Savior sooner than later. I can appreciate her sentiment, but she still has good health, employment, children, and grandchildren. Maybe I’m a little selfish, but I prefer being on this earth for a much longer time, if possible, experiencing all of the good things our Creator has given us to enjoy. I would also like to grow old with my wife and have the opportunity to one day spoil some grandchildren.

I do not know when I will take my last breath here on earth, but I do know I will be in Heaven afterwards. I once had a non-practicing Jehovah Witness friend who had said about Christians, among many other things, that they believe in Heaven only because they are afraid of death. I rarely agreed with most of the things he had to say, but as a Believer I do take comfort in the knowledge of where I will be someday. That apparently is not the case for George Costanza in an episode of the beloved television comedy series, Seinfeld, when the gang decides to volunteer spending time with senior citizens. George, the neurotic worry-wart of the bunch, is paired with a spry 85 year-old man, and as the two are having coffee, at a local diner, George gets concerned after the man claims he is not afraid of dying. Volunteer Costanza questions how an 85 year-old cannot be afraid of death since he himself is already worrying about it, and he is only in his thirties.

George continues his interrogation, and he keeps persisting the elderly man’s time on earth has to be just about up. He then declares the senior citizen is really pushing the envelope, but the old man’s reply is that he is grateful for the time he has, and he just doesn’t think about death all that much. Mr. Costanza keeps pestering the senior citizen, insisting he should be worried about his nearing demise, with more astounding comments such as, “How can you be grateful when you’re so close to the end,” and “You’re not stupid, you can read the handwriting on the wall.” The 85 year-old has finally had enough of George, as he gets up from the booth to leave, and tells the worry-wart, “Life’s too short to waste on you.” I hope my disposition about death, as I grow older, is closer to that of the elderly gentleman’s than to George Costanza’s viewpoint on the matter.

My first experience with death, except for the loss of a pet or two, was around the age of thirteen when my great uncle passed away. My parents insisted the whole family go to the visitation although only my mother and father would be attending the funeral service. I didn’t know the deceased all that well, and as a teen I had no desire for wasting a day off from school by driving out of town to mingle with some “strangers.” I admit the thought of seeing a dead body also kind of freaked me out. I tried pleading with my parents, in hopes of them allowing me to skip the visitation, but to no avail. Therefore, I resolved to take matters into my own hands. Shortly before the dreaded time had come, for us to leave, I made an escape out my bedroom window. The breakout wasn’t all that easy either: not with the window in the corner of the room being so small, my bed acting as somewhat of an obstacle, and then a short drop down to the ground below.

My daring feat was absolutely exhilarating. As I ran free down the street a sense of relief came over me, but it was almost immediately replaced with the fear of knowing I would be facing my father’s wrath when returning home later in the day. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy my new found freedom since I spent the entire time fretting and pondering what the punishment would be. The sentence ultimately handed down was much worse than the grounding, or the possible whoopin’ I had anticipated, because I was now being forced to attend the funeral service of my great uncle, and I knew escaping this time was not an option. Oh yeah, while my father was closing my bedroom window, in utter frustration and anger, he had broken the glass, but guess who had to pay to have the window replaced? Life is a journey filled with experiences and lessons learned. Death is a part of life, and without death we would never be able to fully appreciate life.