There are ages that we reach, if we take care of ourselves, where you find that the phone numbers for friends that you haven’t seen for a while are no good anymore. It seemed like it was just a week or so ago that you called that Sergeant Major that was on your team back when we were all immortal and would never die and all was good. Then when you called, the number had been disconnected. The first thing most of us do is check to make sure you dialed it correctly and then you call another friend that walked a couple of hills with you over in Southeast Asia a few years ago. That number was good but your friend was not. He had passed a few weeks ago and his wife just didn’t feel like writing all the people that he knew to tell them. He knew a lot of guys and it would have been too hard on her to do this.
The one thing you have in common with all your friends is the color of your hair, if you have any left that is. I was sad about not being able to say goodbye to my friend. Then I thought to myself that I had said goodbye the last time we spoke. When you reach this age you always give a little extra word or touch when you talk to your friends. I had stopped in Salinas, where my best friend has a diesel repair shop. He told me that he had just come back from Palo Alto, where he had an appointment with an eye doctor. It was discovered that he had lost about 45 percent of the nerves on his right eye and 25 percent of the left. Like most folks this loss of vision had come upon him slowly. Kind of like my blushing bride asking why I had a pair of glasses in every room, until the day comes when she can’t read a phone book unless it’s in the bright sun.
I felt bad for him but he was happy as they had caught it and the doctor thought he would be able to see until the lights went out permanently. He said, “You know George, I have felt so lucky for a long time. The things I have lived through gave me confidence I would be healthy until the last.” We spoke about that for awhile. We have both stopped cancer before it took over the house and we had both ridden into and sometime through walls and still were here to talk about it. “I think,” he continued, “that the worst thing would be to be sent somewhere because there wasn’t anyone to take care of me.” I wholeheartedly agreed. It suddenly occurred to me as I write these words that most of what we used to talk about is girls and all the places we had been before.
Later, as I pulled into Gonzales, I stopped to see a friend. We were talking about how many times he had fixed my truck or car and how many times I had bought tires from him. As we laughed and joked, a lady we both knew pulled her car into the shop and asked if he would check her tires for her. He got the air hose and went around her car and then told her they were at the correct pressure. Then the three of us spoke about getting older and how we might handle it. It seems a man I didn’t know but they did was in a home and for some reason his boys would not go to visit him. First I was shocked and then I wondered why children would do things like that. I know my daughter would always come to see me because, well, I just know. I said I sure hope my boys would visit if that happened to me. They both turned to me and assured me that my sons were good men and would never let me down that way. To be honest it was nice to hear that but I sort of knew that they would.
I forget whether it was in church or just something I heard or maybe I just made it up, but the truth is, God only gives us one thing. Time! How we use it is up to us. Don’t waste it worrying.
Use it to make someone happy or make yourself happy. Do something nice for someone today. Or as my mom use to say, “Write your mom. She worries.”