Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? That haunting question has been asked over the years. That is the subject for my Memorial Day column.
Every day we grow older. Our friends and loved ones grow older too. I look in the paper every day to see the birthdays. The heroes from my youth are listed. They are celebrating birthdays of eighty and ninety years. Tarzan at eighty? Are you kidding me? Once the love of my life, Debbie Reynolds, a senior citizen. But, why shouldn’t they get older, I am. The good news is that so many of them are still around. It is sad to consider that many never see their senior years.
Of course, I am also now a senior citizen. But I remember one day as a small child, I saw my grandmother all dressed up and it wasn’t even Sunday. I asked her where she was going. She said today is “Decoration Day” and we are going to the cemetery to decorate graves of our loved ones and our military heroes. That day is now known as Memorial Day. The day set aside to remember our friends and loved ones who have passed on.
Today I think about the many friends and loved ones who have gone on. I still miss them. I still think about them. I also think today about the friends I have who are suffering illnesses. Some very serious. Mike is going through his fourth cancer. Jack just had triple bypass surgery. Jerry is suffering from macular degeneration. My brother has had one bout with cancer as well as both knees replaced. My sister just had a hip replacement. Others too numerous to name are, or soon will be, in the same boat. “Time and tide wait for no man.” Time marches on. The machine that is our body begins to break down from use and abuse. In times past when we talked on the phone, it was usually about sports, or other friends, or other mundane events. Now it is all about the latest doctor visit or the latest prescription. I never thought I would see the day.
When a friend or loved one dies, it hurts. It hurts deeply. Sometimes you might ask, wouldn’t I have been better off if I never knew that person rather than suffer the pain of their loss. Then the flood of memories comes back. The fun times. The fishing trips. Just the times when we were together. I think how my life would have been less having never known them. I have long believed that one of the penalties of living a long life is suffering the loss of old friends and loved ones. None of us are going to get out of this life alive.
And so, we remember. We have Memorial Day set aside for remembering. I suspect most of us don’t need a special day to remember. We do so automatically. I know I do. In remembering the old friends and loved ones, I smile. I smile at the memories I have. I remember the antics of my grandfather. It used to drive my mother crazy. He was the devil in the flesh according to her. But he was the greatest kind of grandpa a kid like me could have. He took us fishing and taught us how to catch the big ones. They got mad at him because he would occasionally have a beer in front of the kids. When they griped, he would just put another chew of tobacco in his mouth and grin. I still miss him.
Today is a day of memories. I hope yours are as sweet as mine. I also hope when I am gone, someone will have good memories of me.