What happened to my life?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

A perspective post from G.


WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LIFE ? Subtitle: How did it go by so fast ?

FAIR WARNING: I really don’t know if this piece is inspired by my recent illness, but writing and reading it, it’s a pretty good piece for anyone, regardless of age or health, to read. If not, hit delete. Also, like my life, it’s a little long. **************************************************************** It’s amazing to me. It REALLY is amazing. It feels like I’m 18, but my recent birthday a few weeks ago, firmly cements my place as an “official old man.” Now I don’t know if it’s common to all “old timers”, but in the last year or so I’ve had a flood, no, make that deluge, or tidal wave, of memories. Whether inspired by a simple, unexpected, “trigger” or a subconscious dream, they charge me like the Light Brigade at Sevastopol. And like it or not, I must deal with them. Another thing about these memories, some from 70 years ago, or seven years ago, or seven days ago, is that I really and truly don’t know if it’s Gods’ way of having me prepare to say goodbye to life, or preparing me for things yet to come ahead. Frankly, either way, I can’t wait to find out which. Another thing: all these things sometimes make no sense. I may have some sparked memory from say, 60 years ago, that was such a minor thing I can’t believe I remembered it. Other memories, I have absolute certainty why I remember it. Oh well, what the hell. The most positive thing about these memories is that they force you to look back at your life with either happiness, or unhappiness. For me, there’s no in between. Frankly, I’m glad about that. Makes thinking clearer. Some of these memories are JOYOUS !

Do you remember the first time you were really in love? I do— I was seventeen, and a junior in high school. She was smart, personable, pretty, and perfect. I was gonzo ! It was doomed to failure of course. She was off to college in New York, me off to college in Indiana, then the Marines, then Vietnam. But THANK YOU my wonderful first love. You gave me memories and taught me things about life I can never, ever forget. God Bless and keep you, where ever you are.

Then there are the memories that are HORRENDOUS ! I fought in the battle of Khe Shan in Vietnam. It was truly hell on earth. Death and destruction were EVERYWHERE. Funny thing— it was bad enough while it happened, but the other night I had a very detailed dream about it. (over 50 years later) It was like a childhood dream where you are being chased by monsters, aliens, and all things bad. I woke up in a cold, raw sweat, drenched from head to foot, and shaking. But this horrible experience WAS a part of my life, and helped shape it just like all the good memories.

All of us have memories at any age. Like me, some are good, some bad. But it seems to me that as you pass the “golden mark” (What the hell is golden about it? You get old, you get sick, and then you die) that memories become increasingly more significant. You get to question the content, character, purpose, and value of the life you’ve lived. Sometimes, you’re happy with the result, other times, not so much. Intelligent people call this “LIFE.” My favorite aunt (long since departed) had a favorite saying: Life is life, UNTIL life becomes what YOU make it. A good saying, even after so, so many years. God Bless and keep you Lady, wherever you are. Remember the old Barbara Streisand song ‘Memories?” “Memories, like the corners of our mind, misty watercolor memories of the way we were.” Reminds me of another saying of a favored teacher, and later mentor: What you WERE is ne’er as important as what you are NOW.

I’m also a very lucky man. I confess to having a “man cave”, plus the Jerry Goodwin study, filled with the mementoes of my life. Pics of family and friends, especially Carla, Laur-Laur, and K-K are everywhere. These never fail to bring a huge smile to my face. Momentos of Marine days, and of civilian job are there too. Two of my favorites are from my years at the printing company when I had to fire a particularly bad employee everybody hated. When I told him he was fired, he took a swing at me. I was forced to put him down. The employees gave me a photoshopped picture of Godzilla wearing boxing gloves, with the inscription: “In memory of the stupid son of a bitch who took on Godzilla”. My other favorite is a simple frame with a red felt background, upon which are nine black Marine emblems. It symbolizes the nine Marines who died under my command. I NEVER want to forget them, because the sacrifice of their lives means I HAVE TO make the most of mine. In order to get from my bedroom to the bathroom each morning, I have to pass the Goodwin study. As I do, I touch the door jamb and pat it. After so many years, it has a slight indentation from this practice. God bless, love and keep you my cherished friend, wherever you are. You taught me what true friendship is. Also throughout the house are momentos, citations, awards, medals etc. Some of them were presented to me by some of you reading this. THANK YOU ! They mean a lot, and when on days the world seems cold and dark, they remind me that at least on some days my life had meaning and purpose. That somehow I accomplished some good for my fellow-man. Believe me, an old man (or woman) really needs that. My personal religious beliefs are that someday I will be brought before God for a “final judgment.” God will say “Account for your life !” I hope, I really really hope, that the first words out of my mouth are : THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING ME SUCH A FABULOUS LIFE ! If I can do that, I’ll take my chances from there. So as I began this over long piece, “What happened to my life?” Answer is Life happened to my Life ! The good, the bad, the ugly, the heartfelt and the heartbreak, the tried, the true, the false and the bullshit. And one morning, wearing the disguise of an old man, I saw it all for what it was / is— MY LIFE.

I close (finally !) with a request for a favor: When you have time, grab your favorite beverage, find your favorite spot, put your feet up, and regardless of your age, cherish the memories of YOUR LIFE ! Until next time, and more ramblings of an old man———


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