31 December 2006
During the 1990s, and for a couple of years thereafter, I was anxious, perturbed, and generally disagreeable, and what's worse, I was unable to capitalize on those characteristics. The turmoil began subsiding around 2003, and by 2005, I was teetering on the brink of complacency.
Then 2006 threw me a couple of curve balls. The hardest one to face, of course, was the death of my father during the last week of the year. It's not like it was a surprise or anything, as I wrote on his 79th birthday:
I'm screwy enough to believe at some way-below-consciousness level that the longer he goes on, the longer I go on. (Which obviously can't be true, since only three of the five children survive, but this is not the sort of notion that is affected by mere facts.)
Still: just one more year. Just one. And after that, let's hope for one more, and pray that we're not pressing our luck.
I had no idea, of course, that a mere ten days after I wrote that, the Grim Reaper was preparing to call on me. I remember getting out of the remains of my car, shrugging, and hopping onto the cell phone; at no point that day did it occur to me that had one or two variables gone a couple of percentage points in another direction, I'd have been just as dead as that doe two lanes over.
One of the good ol' boys who stopped to offer a helping hand that day told me this: "If it's not your time, it doesn't matter what you do. And if it is your time, it doesn't matter what you do."
During a bout of pneumonia three years ago, I had come up with this bit of quasi-wisdom: "The number of times you cheat Death equals the number of times you cross his path minus one."
If nothing else, I now understand our daredevils a little better: they're running up the score on that old scythe-wielding SOB while they still can. Dear Old Dad fought him off for the better part of a decade; I've had three run-ins with him myself. (If you're keeping score, the previous encounters were in 1960 and 1985; there was a short-lived surrender plan for 1988, which did not come to fruition.)
And being 3-0 so far doesn't give me license to act like a complete and utter fool, but it does provide a sense of perspective: if the big catastrophes haven't done me in, what can the minor trials and tribulations of life possibly do to me?
So here's to 2007. I hope I don't have to face the sort of things I did in 2006; but if I do, I'm (almost) ready.