The alarm went off at five this morning like it has for the last umpteenth years. I got up like I always do, started coffee, turned on the IPad to read about the latest disaster foreign and domestic. That’s when I noticed my middle finger on the left hand one of my bird fingers was in a perpetually bent down position. Was God getting me back for all the birds I had flown to people over the years? Then it hit me……Freaking arthritis. Are you kidding me? Old age has happened and no matter how many sports cars I could buy would change that. I’m not complaining about getting old, it’s just the way life is. You live, you die.
There is a picture of my cousin Kim and me that I walk by every morning and for some reason this morning after I finally got my finger to straighten out I stopped to look at it. First of all I noticed that the picture looked old, like from another time. Then it hit me. It truly was from another time. More than a half a century time. A time when Dwight David Eisenhower was President, A time when World War II had been over less than twenty years. A time of buttermilk biscuits and molasses, butter beans and pot liquor, a mess of greens and the old breakfast staple of liver mush eggs and onions. It was a time where a vaccine was available that supposedly would wipe out Polio. It was created by by some guy named Jonas Salk. Social media said he was a communist? Sugar cubes? Right….Wait a minute, I’m confused this would come later. The Kennedy’s? Who the hell were the Kennedy’s. The Braves were still in Milwaukee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The feeling I was feeling is was warranted and that the participants in the picture are old too.
People tell me all the time that I don’t look my age. Which that is nice I guess. You are aging gracefully they say. I’ve always wondered about that statement. Old people age but it is anything but graceful. Who makes this stuff up? People said that my dad looked young for his age too as they walked by his casket. I always thought that I was on the young side of old, staying active. Then cancer hit and although now I’m cancer free I still feel the effects although I don’t think the bent middle finger is a result of that.
When you age you tend to think about the afterlife a little more. George Carlin once said that I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam. He also said When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat. Sorry I digress. Life is really a light in the cave and you see it in the distance. It gets brighter ever so slowly moving a little closer. You hear a faint noise that sounds like a train. Then BOOM, death runs you over.
Being raised Methodist in the south I was taught that if you believe you will go to heaven. I think it may be a little more to it than that but what do I know. What I do know is that it was very hard to pry those little flat round wafers from the roof of your mouth and the grape juice didn’t help at all. The communion experience was much better in the Episcopal Church. Just saying. I consider myself a person of faith and I fail so much at many things in life. As the great musician Paul Thorn wrote,
“Some times I wonder how I made it this far. I won some trophies and I wear many scars. Before I go to bed I kneel and pray every night. I wonder if God is proud of me, I hope I’m doing this right”.
As with many of the blogs I write ending them is the hard part. I will leave you with this. I have no idea who Charles Judson Herrick is but he once said,”You don’t grow old; when you cease to grow you are old”. Cheers.