We have just returned from our annual trip to Victoria for a delightful visit with my Dad and Jean, brother Peter, and other assorted relatives Although slowing down just a little, my father, at 93, still has a great outlook on life, slowly takes every day as it comes, really enjoys the company of family and friends, and loves sharing pictures and stories of the good old days.
As I get ready to hit the big 69er, I am always very encouraged by the casual and carefree outlook on life of my folks and so many other vibrant seniors. This little story is dedicated to all of those who are proud of turning grey, throughout their exciting life-long adventures have led their flocks with strict love and patience, and should now be striving to enjoy the ‘golden years.’
One day I had lunch with some friends. Jim, a tall, balding golfer type in his 90s came along with them, and all in all they were a pleasant bunch. When the menus were presented, we ordered off the ‘heart smart’ senior’s portion section that featured salads, sandwiches, and soup; except for Jim, who uttered, “I’ll have ice cream please, with two scoops of chocolate on my big slice of heated apple pie.”
I wasn’t sure that my ears heard right, and the others at the table were really quite aghast, but politely tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people of our age did this sort of thing all the time? But then when our orders were brought out, I really didn’t enjoy mine, and couldn’t take my eyes off old Jim as his pie a la mode looked scrumptious, and went down quickly. The other guys couldn’t believe it either, but they ate their lunches silently and grinned.
The next time I went out to eat I called and invited Jim to come along. While I lunched on white meat tuna, Jim ordered a parfait, and as I smiled, my guest casually asked if he amused me? “Yes, you do, but you also confuse me. How come you can order rich desserts while I feel that I must be sensible?”
He chuckled and explained, “I’m tasting all that is possible. I try to eat the food I need and do the things I should, but life’s so short, my friend, so I hate missing out on something good. ”
With a huge smile he expressed the fact that this year he finally realized how old he was, and realized that he hadn’t been this old before. “So, before I die, I’ve got to try all those things that for years I had ignored. I haven’t smelled all the flowers yet, there are too many trout streams that I haven’t fished, fancy kites to fly, and many more fudge sundaes to wolf down! There are too many golf courses that I haven’t played, I have not laughed at all the jokes, and I’ve missed a lot of those sporting events where I can sit back and nibble on chips, cokes, and hotdogs.”
With a twinkle in his eye Jim went on to stress that he wanted to wade again in the waves and feel the ocean spray on his face, to spread peanut butter on his toast every morning, to make untimed long distance calls to all the folks he loves the most, and to sit in a country church once more and thank God for His grace.
“I haven’t cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain, I need to feel the wind on my face, and I want to fall in love again.”
“So my newfound friend, if I choose to have dessert instead of having dinner or to stay up too late, then should I die before the sun rises, I’d say that I died a winner, because I had missed out on nothing, I had filled my heart’s desire, and I had enjoyed that final chocolate mousse before my life expired!”
With that, I called the waitress over and uttered with excitement. “I’ve changed my mind, I want what Jim is having, only add a double scoop of whipped cream!”
We should always be mindful that happiness isn’t based on possessions, power, and prestige, but on relationships with people that we like and respect. We need to remember that while money talks, chocolate ice cream sings, and the only guarantee for a good life is to live it all as a real good person. Always try to find lots of time for annual Friends and Family Days, while striving each and every day to live well, love much, laugh often, and be happy.
Enjoy the wonderful sound of silence at home, watch out for all those excited kids, and have a great fall week, all of you!