Thursday, March 11, 2010

Before I Know It . . .

I over heard someone say today, “I’m 59 and ½. Before I know it, I’ll be 60.”

It occurred to me that my dad was that age once. Looking at 60, but not quite there.

And then he wasn’t anymore.

I wonder what he thought of his life.

Was he glad for the choices he made? He was always smiling.

Was he sad for the doors he closed? He was always going.

Did the anger fill his thoughts? It spilled from his words like a vile poison, acidly eating away at his peace.

You could see it in his eyes. Bluer than blue; colder than ice.

You could feel it in the tension around his smile; gripped, tightly held inside.

His strong, large hands shook when he talked about some things, some people.

Nervously they gripped his Zippo lighter, his cigarette or strummed on the table extending energy in measured bites.

Did he ever consider the other days?

The tickly, laughing, giggly days? When his daughters walked on his back to relieve the stress of life and his son strode beside him?

“That’s nuts.” And he’d laugh. A deep, sarcastic, throw-your-head-back and guffaw laugh. “Oh jeez!” tears falling down his face and laughing, laughing, laughing.

Did he remember the one wedding dance? The one where he wore the suit we picked for him? The one where he posed for pictures with his lovely teen-age daughters? The one where pride puffed his chest until he was cockier, jauntier than all the other dads in pictures?

Did he look back to those days when he looked ahead to 60 and wish to re-live them?
Or did he only see the trouble, the loss, the heartaches playing over and over? Did he feel the kicks that life dealt him and sink beneath their darkness?

Were there too many seasons between the living and the existing? Were there too many blank pages? Too much aloneness? Too much burden?

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what the record of his days holds. Time, circumstance, apathy pushed a gulf between us that I didn’t cross.

I would give anything to go back to those days and help him re-write the story. To fill in the missing places with memories and peace. To overshadow the sadness with contentment. To share his grandsons’ accomplishments and joys. To let his hands carry them from past to present.

But I can’t. It’s too late. The book is written, the cover is closed.

I hope I’ve learned the lesson of his life so when I’m looking at 60 the air is clouded with children’s voices, graceful hands and contented sighs.

Today, 60 is far away and my life is rich. I know I must keep investing, continue sharing, love lavishly with arms wide open. Teach and guide and learn and grow.

Today is my present from the Lord, the Author and finisher of my faith.

Today I will live completely so when my book closes, the fullness of my life pushes the cover open again and again.

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