Good Old Friends

Submitted by ub on Sun, 08/28/2016 - 10:38

As my grandchildren are returning to school it reminds me of my class reunion. Many aspects were what you'd expect: reconnecting with old friends, catching up on their lives and careers, as well as food and alcohol revelry.

I decided to bring my wife, so asked her to tag along, I was braced for a nightmare of never-ending tales of yesteryear in which she'd played no part (my wife and I met in the new Millenium) and reprisals of long-ago inside jokes. However, some other classmates also brought their spouses and it was just fine.

My wife Yirong says she was inspired by the people she met and deeply touched by the stories they shared. Moreover, we were reminded that suffering and death are inevitable parts of life, and how we cope with and accept them seems to be among the greatest challenges of adulthood.

The festivities had broad-based appeal. Among the highlights was a "La Bamba" sing-along, in which different classmates thankfully volunteered to humor me by playing and singing along. Jack, Dennis, Joe, Rick...etc.

There was the moment for a class memorial to remember those who are no longer with us. These were people who were struck down far too early. Upon further reflection, the journalist in started wondering: Are the deaths a lot or a few? I have interviewed many people, including some who are no longer with us. Some made me laugh, others brought me to tears. Below, I will share the thoughts of one who made me smile and although he's long gone, his words can inspire us all.

Imagine a hundred years ago, when the average American only lived to the age of 52, and we had yet to vanquish the infectious diseases that took the lives of so many children. A 25th reunion would have served as a warning that we're way past the half way point, so take care of that body.
It's such social determinants of health that affect both the quality of our lives and our life spans — much more so than even the direct medical care we are afforded. And it certainly doesn't hurt that we have entered their twilight years during an explosion of knowledge in molecular biology and genetics.

Laughter flowed, and after the event ended, attendees hugged one another and shared remembrances of their experiences. At reunion's end, we were heartened by the beauty and restorative power of learning to handle old age gracefully because it becomes ever more important as we begin the downslope of our lives. Though those of us that remain constantly struggle with it, death is part of all of our lives. Live life now and learn from the past but do not allow it to hold you down.

I went to visit a 90-year-old neighbor this week, whose grandson's life was cut short and suddenly wondered how long will I live? Long enough to see all my grandkids turn into productive adults.
Philosophy For Old Age: