In the Suburbs / Giving 2019 my best shot
I woke up on Jan. 1, starting my 75th year.
“Yikes!” I said out loud. “I’m going to be three-quarters of a century old in August. That’s pretty amazing, except that I already come from a family that thrives on longevity, having all lived to be at least 90 and beyond. For me, at least, 75 is the new 50, I’m busier than ever and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
On New Year’s Day, I received an email from my close, high school friend Marilen, who is also going to be 75. Marilen is this amazing dynamo who, despite her retirement, looks fabulous, is more active than ever and is involved in so many things, I can’t even count them. She also reminded me that her husband Jordy was going to be 81 and, aside from some walking issues, is going strong.
Three weeks before New Year’s, I spoke with another friend, Tom, whose brother had just passed at 91, having lived a full, healthy life. Tom is also in his 70s and is looking forward to an upcoming ski trip to Colorado with his wife, my other great and lovely high school friend Karen. Both have battled and overcome different kinds of cancer and feel terrific. Their travels have taken them to so many places around the globe.
My close friend Alan, soon to be 74, and who lost his wife to an ugly form of cancer two years ago, has embarked on a new relationship and has shed his once, more private demeanor for new friends (in addition to us, of course) and a life filled with golf, travel back and forth to his new lady friend’s home in Florida and a renewed zest for living. We’re in touch at least once a month and are talking about trying to get some of our fraternity brothers, who are still alive, together for a mini reunion someplace in the Midwest or the East.
We agreed that if we don’t seize the opportunity, many more of our classmates — we’ve already lost several over the last four reunions — could be gone. I suggested that, even if we rented out a restaurant in one of the Chicago suburbs for a lunch or dinner, we’ll have succeeded. We’re past the point, I hope, of who looks better than someone else and we just want to make connections.
This year, and maybe it’s because I am getting older, I thought a lot about family and other friends and wonderful times we’ve shared over the years. To reinforce our connections, my wife and I sent a short email to tell all those near and dear how much we value them and how grateful we are to have them in our lives. So many responded and that really brightened our new year.
This year, I made no long list of resolutions that would too easily be broken. But there is one commitment I decided to make and that decision will not be broken. I have simply resolved to live just one day at a time, being awed and excited by any new discoveries and wonders each day will bring.
I will regularly give thanks that I am alive, in good health and with my beautiful wife, who is just five months younger than me (do the math); our two amazing daughters, our son-in-law and our special grandsons Lucas and Abdiel.
Living each day as fully as I can, will keep me energized, young-thinking and upbeat. I hope that attitude will give me something awesome to look forward to when I wake up in the morning and throughout the day.
Happy new year everyone. May 2019 bring you all that you wish for and more. I’m certainly hoping that will be the case for me.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.