Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

The other day, noticing that my Xfinity bill had just about doubled in 5 years, I went to a local office to see about lowering it. A young woman (funny how all that is relative isn’t it?) went above and beyond looking for “plans” that would lower the bill, and she found one.

Know a definition for “elderly”? One I heard decades ago?

Anyone who is at least 10 years older than you.

So I am assuming that she definitely saw me as elderly.

A few days prior I had the epiphany that I hadn’t heard any new “Rock n Roll” except on the “classic” stations. Just to make conversation I made the observation to her that “You know you’re getting old when all the music you knew growing up is… gone”.

And she replied, “I know what you mean. All the music I knew in the 90s is gone too”.

And that observation made me smile, because when do we feel old during our journey here? I’ve known some in their 40s who act…old.

Maybe it is when we start to reminisce.

My late uncle was a 12 year old in his heart until the day he died at age 84. And I’ve got proof.

Although in his heyday he had one of West Virginia’s largest construction companies, with jobs from North Carolina to Indiana. So he was a responsible 12 year old.

He had an ancient fire engine parked on his premises.

Not just any fire engine, but a hook and ladder. A big fire engine. He saw it at an auction and just had to have it. Where it sat, never to be moved, for over 20 years.

He also had an old jeep on the premises and from the age of 12, let me drive it around “The Farm”.

He was a prankster.

Anyway I seem to be on his life path, and that is fine with me.

I was about 14 when I learned that a good childhood friend of mine had died…from drugs. Greg and I used to chum around. A large empty field became a playground. Funny when you are a child you can make fun out of seemingly nothing.

He shot me in the butt with a BB gun one day (accidently or so he claimed), but despite that we were still friends, as boys can be.

He lived a couple of miles from me and went to a different Junior High School. And a few years after we chummed around, he was gone.

I went to my 20 year High School Reunion and, never having been to one, approached it with some trepidation. Didn’t sound like much fun, as I had heard about High School Reunions. But with all the different paths we travelled, some good, some not, we all had fun. The years melted away as we reminisced.

But a few weren’t there that I knew.

One lived just around the corner from me. He was a brilliant guy, always quiet, straight A’s. I figured he’d become something like a nuclear physicist.

I learned at the reunion that one day a couple of years after graduation he parked his Porsche, walked to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, and jumped.

And I never knew why.

Another went to Vietnam and didn’t return.

While in high school another who lived down the street I knew had an accident in his VW convertible. His parents never really recovered from that.

We are here and then gone, with no guarantees as to how long we stay here. We live from moment to moment, and most of the time we don’t realize it.

I like to travel the river road. Despite its potholes it is a welcome respite, particularly when traffic on the Interstate across the river is gridlocked. It has a beautiful view, nice curves to just enjoy – even at the 50 mph speed limit.

There’s a concrete tower where some Ferrarista has over the decades documented world championships by painting the Scuderia Ferrari logo. There must be a dozen on that tower, some very faded.

So anyway, I am rounding a corner feeling good and what should I see right in front of me but a man with a shopping cart in the middle of the lane, walking towards me as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

I swerved out of the way and felt that he wasn’t long for this world. If there had been an oncoming car I don’t know where I could have gone, and my life today would have most likely been very different.

As would his.

But I didn’t hear of anything later

There have been a few times in my life where I have done something and wonder how I managed to stay here. I documented one here.

I can still see that tractor trailer rig getting closer, as my Piper was bouncing through the weeds at 70 mph.

Scared the s!it out of me. They had to talk me down but to this day I know all about crosswind landings.

Call me a slow learner.

I’ve always been that way. You have to keep pounding something into my head but once it is there it is there to stay.

Some experiences we have in life we think at the time are nothing memorable. Maybe we even hate those times.

And yet with the years, we look back at some of them and savor them. We pull them back up and like a nice glass of wine, relive them.

My short time in the Army was one of those times at first. But I came close to making it a career, and I miss the camaraderie to this day.

Getting fired and deciding to just cast my fate to the wind, going to the South Pacific, having no idea what I would do when I returned was another. Didn’t need to stay at the Hiltons and Sheratons, just wandered around for almost 3 months. Some things that we do on the spur of the moment end up as lifetime memories.

You never know at the time.

If you are lucky and grow older, and if your spirit stays young your body can occasionally laugh at some of the spirit’s requests. I get up 3 and 4 times a night. Was on the roof today cleaning out the gutters. I have this large tree that spews leaves, and you can clean the gutters, only to see them full in 3 weeks.

Someone finally convinced me to put these gutter coverings on.

I noticed in years past I would just scamper on that roof like a monkey. Today I was more like a lumbering bear. One who could see himself tumbling off that roof.

Now I thought I’d better take it easy.

My neighbor, also an Army veteran, and I were remembering during those times “double timing” was as natural as walking. We could have double timed all day.

Now look at us.

Whenever my time does come to leave, I figure on having some nice reunions with those who have gone before me.

You may of course, think differently.

But I think Lex did get to meet those on his wish list.

I think he and I are going to have some laughs over a Guinness. Might even go so far as to say that he and I are friends from across time and space. He may think differently, but as he would say, “It’s my story, he may tell it differently“.

And the first thing I am going to ask him?

Why is TOPGUN one word and all caps? You always told us not to ask!

I’ll bet the answer isn’t as profound as I imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

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