My 71st birthday has come. I don't celebrate my birthdays like I did as a kid. I use to look forward to my day of birth and wonder how many gifts I would get and how big my birthday cakes would be. I would try to remember all the fun things I would do on that day of celebration. Now I am just thankful that I had made it through another year of life.
I have some white hair now. Do I dare to count them? Just the fact that I have them does not make me old, hell I had them when I was in my thirties. Does having some white hairs mean that I'm old? I think not. What really makes me feel old is when someone will hold the door open for me and say "You first, sir." I know that it makes them feel good inside that they have done something nice for a older person; to me I want to yell "You first sonny I'm still able to move."
I have known all along that as we age we grow older. But why does it have to happen to me and better yet why has it happened so quickly?
I take another look in the mirror. Do I look older? Do I look old? I don't feel old, but I'm actually not sure what old feels like. My grandfather would say you are only as old as you feel. It's the mind that makes you old, not the body. I remember as a kid I wondered what old people felt like, what were they thinking. Now I know.
Earlier this year, my friends took me to a nursing home. I was there for a little bit of rehab. There were some children in the lobby and I could not help felling how youthful they were and full of pep. I was once that young and that full of pep. Now I am an old man in a wheel chair coming in just as they are leaving. That too, made me feel just a little older. In 60 more years those kids will be me and I, of course, unless there is a real miracle, will be gone. So no matter how you look at it time does move on and no matter how you feel about it you also move on.
There is a poem by Robert Frost called the Road Not Taken that sums up my feeling on my life to date; Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
This special day, like my birthday, is just a reality check. "James P, life is so short and it goes by so quickly. Enjoy the moment that you are in, because you will never get it back." I have decided to dedicate this birthday as a day of remembrance as well as a day of reflection on those that helped me grow older and helped me live my life.