This morning I received an e-mail from former classmate Jean who informed me that another classmate of ours is now in hospice care. Since our 50th class reunion was held last October 17, 2009, this is the third reminder that my generation time on this earth is coming to an end.
Last week I had a visit by a former classmate who recently lost her husband. She told us that she knew her husband had a terminal illness (gall bladder cancer) but only a few knew at the reunion.
A few months another classmate of mine, Bonnie, died suddenly in her sleep. I sat behind Bonnie in grade school. We were both named school monitors at the same time. Bonnie was my first official date (the Soph Hop when we were 15 years old - my father drove us to the dance much to my embarrassment.)
Bonnie and I lost touch over the years only to reunited at our 35th class reunion at which time we informed each other that we were both gay. We joked about that date in which my father drove us to dance in his car. He didn't have a chance to make out. Likely story. Anyway, after thirty-five years, we had a good chuckle about it. It was quite a shock to my system when Bonnie died suddenly in her sleep. It seems like I just saw her at the reunion (which I did.)
Now I get news that another well liked classmate of mine, Bill J., is in hospice care. I was told that his cancer has spread to his bones. We're having a 51st informal class reunion this September. Jean told me that Bill is looking forward to attending our class get together in September.
Every day I am reminded of my mortality. I think back to things that I did fifteen years ago and it doesn't seem that long ago. I think fifteen years ahead and it is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I will be 83 years old. Even if I am alive, will I be good for anything? Will I be able to take my morning walks on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach? Will I be able to mow my lawn? Will I be able to take care of myself?
My longtime good friend Bob M. is only five years older than me. I cannot talk to him anymore on the phone because he falls asleep on the other end of the line. I can't have him over the house anymore because he almost backed his car into my house. He fell down the steps (thank goodness he didn't break anything.) The last time I had him over for dinner, he can't keep food in his mouth. It's on the table, chair and floor. His face has that look of a haunted person. It is the look of the most cruel disease, slowly advancing dementia. He's not there anymore. His body is here but his mind isn't.
My friend Ron H. died in 2005 from AIDS related diseases. My friend Sal died in 2006, a month before I moved to Delaware (he was to visit me) from lung cancer. My friend and former co-worker Anne Marie died at the young age of 56 from breast cancer this past January. I remember when she sent me an e-mail telling me that she was informed that she had terminal cancer and said she was "overwhelmed." I was too. I didn't know what to say. Anne Marie always seemed so full of life. It's hard for me to believe that I have outlived this vibrant woman.
When I write my blog postings I try to keep them upbeat and positive. I am a natural complainer and I am often tempted to write about my various complaints but I don't because who wants to read all that negativity? Sometimes I can't help myself and I have to let out my pent up frustration.
This past week I have discovered a new pastime which is very relaxing and positive. I take an early morning run down to Rehoboth Beach and walk a couple of miles on the boardwalk then sit myself on a bench and watch the people. I love watching life and the activities of other people as long as there aren't too many screaming kids around (I can't take those piercing little girl screams or the whines of little boys.)
I am fortunate that I live in such a beautiful area of the country. I've worked hard all my life to get myself to this point in my life. All those years I commuted to and from my job in Philadelphia. I quit my job in the city when I was in my fifties because I feared that I would die before I ever got the chance to "live near the water." I'm living near the water now and I enjoy everyday of by blessed existence here on the Delmarva peninsula. Sure, there are some downsides. The summertime traffic is horrendous but I can get around that. Last summer the mosquitoes were relentless. This summer the heat and humidity is relentless. But I can still find those niches that afford me the quality of life that I seek.
One of my favorite blogs, Liberty and Independence, had a posting today about finding our niche in life and making the most of it. The writer of that blog is a young man (compared to me at least, he's half my age.) He has discovered the secret of living a life of quality. Find your niche and live it. For you never know when it will end.