Sooner or later you get to the point where you can’t refer to yourself any longer as “middle aged” — like 90.
On reaching my 90th birthday, I am happy — even amazed — that I dodged all the temptations that could have made an earlier day my last day.
That I did not expire on a U.S. warship, on the autobahn in a speeding Porsche or in more embarrassing circumstances that I shall not discuss doesn’t tell the story at all.
I think back over myriad decisions that were forks in a long road and of the things that “made all the difference”— not always right but, fortunately, not always wrong.
Others will surely recognize the truth in my statement that every day is a chance for unexpected things — both good and bad — to sweep in from the wings and set the stage for one’s own quixotic histrionics.
Nothing is ever what one expects, and that’s more often fortunate than unfortunate, unless your expectations come from an exalted opinion of your own self.
My daughter, visiting us from Connecticut, tells me heatedly that my picture is in the August Winter Park Magazine. “Impossible!” I say.
Then she shows me an ancient photo of the local high school football team in 1937. There I am, sitting on the ground with the football between my feet as center of a team of lads 17 and 18!
My first thought is, “How many of them are alive today?” All the ones whom I kept up with through the years have died, and I don’t know any of those who may be left.
My daughter’s visit is a constant reminder that she is no longer in school anywhere, and that she has a son who will soon be 30!
People don’t change — times do!
My b.w. arranges two beautiful dinner parties when wee-daughter is here, proving once again that she is the irreplaceable keystone in the arch of my extended happy life.
While everything is in place, we must enjoy and treasure the precious moments.
Now back in the town where I was raised, after a lifetime in New York and Europe, I recall riding my bike on the shaded brick streets of Winter Park when I was in grammar school and high school.
The bricks in the little side streets are probably unchanged, but the legs that pedaled on them have slowed down and are heavy with years.
Like most of my contemporaries, I enjoy an active present and spend little thought on the checkered past.
Football games, Harvard years, Navy ships in the South Pacific and operas sung on both sides of the Atlantic are as unobtrusive in my mind as my b.w., and I buy groceries, entertain friends and look out on our peaceful little lake.
Most of us try to sum up our earthly existence as something of special meaning and importance, seeing ourselves as the stars of some unique mundane drama.
In the end, we realize that the plot has been largely happenstance and that other actors are standing in the wings waiting to replace us.
The wisdom of living “a day at a time” is inarguable. A good day is all there is — all you’re going to get. Doing everything possible to make it good is the trick.
We’re all in this together.