“A young person’s death is much like a shipwreck at sea. An old person’s death is a ship coming into port at last.”
I’ve written before about growing old, and I would have to say that from my vantage point, planted right between fifty and sixty, I’m already not a big fan. Although I don’t feel half my actual age, here’s the thing.
Remember the days when little boys used to play with armies of toy soldiers, lining them up in rank and formation on the hearth rug while mother churned butter or kneaded bread? Neither do I, but you get the picture.
It seems to me that generations are lined up something like those little soldiers. As a child you’re way back in the ranks — surrounded by so many others you can’t even see the front, let alone imagine you’ll be forced to take your place there someday. When you reach young adulthood, you’re still not aware of being part of this army, but one day you will realize life truly has been formatted in generational lines. You will understand how the game works. That’s where I am right now.
One by one, mighty soldiers in the front lines of my life have fallen, and a few days ago another good woman fell. Many of those now gone weren’t even related to me, but in many ways and for many reasons they formed part of that line. The very line I felt was protecting me. Yes, there are some gaping holes back where I’m standing because life isn’t always fair, but it’s mostly the front lines that have suffered. For me, there have been so many in the generation ahead that it’s taken awhile for the holes to really show, but now I can see through the last line standing ahead of me, and I don’t like it one bit.
I have no fear of leaving this life, but I have a great fear of leaving it too soon. I’m very greedy about that and I lust after the gift of living, healthy and whole, to see my grandchildren grown up, and maybe even know great-grandchildren.
Days like today help me buckle down and work hard at things I want to accomplish. Things like my writing. And I realize anew how important it is to develop and nurture relationships. I like to think that parts of me will live on in the words I’ve written and the relationships I’ve maintained no matter when my time comes to pass through the thin curtain separating this life from the one beyond.
Given good health and a sound mind though, I’d welcome the chance to put into port with a smile on my face at the end of a full and satisfying voyage.