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Monday, August 6, 2012

From 9 to 90

I catch myself in fits of nostalgia during the final furlong of summer.

I'll be running and the wind will shift. The sweet smell of cut grass wafts over you and you are transported to the hot summer days of your youth. 

I don't peruse the obituaries as a rule. I was looking for someone but I stumbled onto someone else. What caught my eye was that she was the age of 9. I'll call her Betty.

Before a run, I'll always check which directions the clouds are moving. As a boy, I'd lay in the warm grass staring up at a stark blue sky. The slight movement of a few scattered wisps of clouds was the only indication that time was passing. The silence was beautiful and humbling. 

The article was brief, like Betty's life. She died of cancer in a local hospital surrounded by her family. 

My son is past 8 years old. I was 6 when I was first diagnosed. I see his summer of awesome and I think of Betty's family. 

Let's face it. We all want our obits to read the same. Dead at 90, after sex, with a 1/2 a glass of wine in our hand.

I think back to the sounds of the street when I was a kid. My cousin and I would walk the streets, up and down, scraping old gum with a rusted nail. We were going green before it was fashionable. No need to check in with the parents. It was sun up to sun down.

There was no i-Anything. No white earbuds keeping your bad music to yourself.  

Music was shared by people blasting it from their garage or their driveways. And best part of all was that it was free.




All you needed was a t-shirt and shorts. No shoes required at Cumberland Farms.

I wondered if Betty had any beach days. Did she miss a lot of school? 

In the evenings, the temperature would be 85 but 70 in the shade of a tree. The grass under there was even cooler and green just from rain, no chemicals to kill weeds and everything else.

Dinner was always at dusk and no matter how much you feigned ignorance, you mother knew you could hear her calling for you three streets away. 

Betty will no longer have these memories if she had them at all.

Time will slip through your hands no matter how you may attempt to freeze it. To stay in your own personal snow globe where time stays still forever.

I am looking to run longer these days. I curse myself for not being better. But it doesn't last long. I remind myself I am breathing. I am giving it my all to go beyond what I feel is an acceptable time to leave this world. 

We should all strive. One day at a time. Make a memory not just for yourself but for those around you.

You don't know when. Why would you really want to know?

Betty's obit read that she was of the age of 9. It should have read 90...





3 comments:

  1. 90, after sex with half a glass of wine in hand... good one! I believe Betty is in heaven. Sad for her family though and reminds you to live each moment to the fullest.

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  2. That was beautiful. Poignant for a life lost so young but it gave us all the memory of childholld and the freedom to run free. I can remember getting to 13 and having to check back in at lunchtime and wondering what the fuss was about and loving to lie under trees and watch them. I think that is a cradle memory. Thank you; your story has made me feel peaceful.

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  3. Just lost my comment. Can't get past your 'captcha'. Poignant story that made me remember lying under trees, as a child and watching them wave in the breeze. More recently my old cat would sit on me as I took a break from gardening. Memories are so precious. Thank you. Betty's probably thanking you too.

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