|With Debbie in Idaho in 2012|
I turn 64 today. It was suggested to me that I create a “bucket list.” I politely told the person that I didn’t need a bucket list. I’ve done just about everything I could desire to do in life.
No, it hasn’t been perfect. Whether alone or with Debbie, my wonderful wife of almost forty years, I have spent the last six plus decades walking the challenging path we call life. We have known success, failure, and success again. We have endured challenges, painful loss, and bittersweet times, but through it all we have endured with a philosophy of never giving up on life or each other.
I don’t need a bucket list. I am indeed proud to say that I managed to graduate from college, become an Army paratrooper and Ranger, serve in two wars, survive the bullets, mortars, or rockets directed at me, climb tall mountains, cross raging rivers, walk through jungles in Asia filled with both men and animals that could kill me, traverse deserts in the Middle East also filled with both men and animals that could kill me, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, ride a surfboard at dawn, scuba-dive in the ocean with sharks and in freshwater springs with alligators, survive the crash landing of an airplane, own a business, put a lot of bad guys in jail as a cop (and help a few good guys along the way), start a scholarship fund to honor a fellow police officer’s memory, write a book, live in the best country on earth, have the greatest parents and sister anyone could ask for, marry the finest woman in the world, father four beautiful children, and live to see my wonderful grandchildren. I didn't do everything right, but I hope the pluses are more than the minuses.
I have no right to ask for more than God has given me so far. I only wish to spend as much quality time with Debbie as I can. We have been blessed to retire together.
I received the following email from a good friend. We both grew up in Orlando in the fifties and sixties, and we now find ourselves on the far side of the hill of life. We don’t plan to cash in our chips any time soon, but it is easier to see the end of the game somewhere down the road:
“Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime.
If you're not in your winter yet, let me remind you that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long! Life goes by quickly. Do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!
You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life, so live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!
'Life' is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. Live it well, enjoy today, do something fun, be happy, travel everywhere, and have a great day. Remember that it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. Live happy in 2013!
Lastly, consider the following:
- Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.
- Your kids are becoming you, but your grandchildren are perfect!
- Going out is good; coming home is better!
- You forget names.... But it's okay because other people forgot they even knew you!
- You realize you're never going to be really good at things like golf.
- The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore.
- You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It's called 'pre-sleep.'
- You miss the days when everything worked with just an 'ON' and 'OFF' switch.
- You tend to use more 4 letter words ... 'what?'...'when?'...
- Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
- You notice everything they sell in stores is 'sleeveless.'
- What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
- Everybody whispers.
- You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet, two of which you will never wear.
- But old is good in some things: old songs, old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!
Stay well, 'OLD FRIEND!' Send this on to other 'Old Friends!' and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.”
Thanks to my friend for his wisdom. Thanks to my family and friends for their support and love. Thanks to you for taking the time to read an old man’s musings.
Thanks to God for this life....
Charles M. Grist