"Why bring all this up? Now that 70 is knocking at the door louder and louder, it is time to take stock of my life, and reflect a wee bit. To say I have been richly blessed is an understatement. Don't get me wrong - the ride has not been easy at times - yet, at all times, it has always been worth it."
It is kind of strange when you think of it. Most of the men and women I graduated from high school with, are now retired. Some travel quite a bit, some stay put. Some are parents, some grand parents, and unfortunately, some are no longer with us.
Every now and again, it gives me pause to think. I have been out of high school now, for just over 50 years. In my mind (as well as some of my classmates, who have confessed this), we are still somewhat teenagers, in our self image. That is - until we look in the mirror. One wonders where that 50 + years has gone. My gosh, that is over a half a century! And now the survivors of the class of 1967, are age 70, some 71, and a few still hanging on at 69.
My generation has been blessed to have lived through a whole lot of history. Not the type of world changing history our parents lived through, but important history never the less. For example, Viet Nam and the corresponding draft defined EVERYTHING for just about EVERYONE. Thank goodness today's youth don't have that albatross hanging around their necks! But we did. Viet Nam and the draft guided and directed just about every life decision we made back then. Some good, some very good, some very bad.
Now, when I get together with my grandies, I often look in their eyes, trying to see the world as they see it. Right now, it is mostly innocence, as they are too young to understand the complexities of our country's problems, as well as the dangers in the world. As parents, as grand parents, it is our job to protect that innocence as long as possible. For when innocence is lost, part of their paradise is also lost.
As a young man, my eyes were really opened to the world when I first set foot in Navy boot camp. If boot camp did not wake a young man up back in the 1960's, it was time to see a doctor! The eye opening continued when the plane touched down at my first duty station. A half a world away, I was stationed at a United States protectorate, which looked more like a third world country than anything else. I wanted to tell Toto we were not in Robbinsdale anymore! Plus, if I screwed up, not having Mom nor Dad to intercede for me was an instant wake up call. It was my boyhood coming face to face with my impending manhood at the ripe old age of 19.
Being the offspring of the Greatest Generation, most of us in my generation knew that time was of the essence. In other words, get your training in, then get out in the world to contribute. So, I graduated from high school at 17, enlisted in the Navy at 18, started serving in the Navy at 19, finished active duty at 23, into college at 23, married at 24, graduated from college at 25, started working at 26, back in the Navy (reserve) at 26, took a Navy commission at 28. My twenties were definitely the decade of "turning and burning". Most classmates I have talked to have similar stories. "Get R' Done" was the name of the game.
After my "roaring twenties", it was then decades of work at Sperry Univac, Control Data, FMC, IBM and Ecolab. I regret none of it, as the experiences were worth more than gold to me. Meanwhile, we built our dream house, had two wonderful daughters, and now two precious grandies. As life for me started out being the grandson to my two grandpas, I am now a grandpa to my two grandies. It is truly, the great circle of life.
Why bring all this up? Now that 70 is knocking at the door louder and louder, it is time to take stock of my life, and reflect a wee bit. To say I have been richly blessed is an understatement. Don't get me wrong - the ride has not been easy at times - yet, at all times, it has always been worth it.
I often think in a perfunctory way about the Seals and Croft song, We may never pass this away again. No, we may not. Our lives have been our chance to live our lives in the way God has written them for us. For that I am eternally grateful. This has been a most wonderful experience, and it continues today. This experience called life is ours to live, and live to the fullest. Why? Because, we many never pass this way again.