I remember when I was young and I’d hear about people dying. When they were described as being in their sixties, I thought,”What did you expect? They were old!” Needless to say, I’ve changed my thinking about what constitute “being old” since then. Today I get to celebrate and thank God for bringing me into this world sixty-seven years ago. Truman was president, the Korean War was in full swing, and Washington was deeply involved in trying to discover which Americans were secretly communists. I strange time for our country, but then, when hasn’t it been?
In July 17th of ’51, my parents had been remarried for only a short while and the Roots lived in part of a rental townhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. I had a brother and sister who were already teenagers and another brother who was four and a half. I was a surprise addition to the family, as you can imagine, with parents who were thirty-eight and forty-eight. I still like telling my kids that my father was born in 1903 – just thirty-eight years after the Civil War! Of course, I was born only six years after World War 2, but I still grew up thinking of it as ancient history. We didn’t have a TV for several years, so any news that was black and white always seemed older. My parents were only a couple years away from a second divorce, because of my father’s drinking and abuse of my mother (I didn’t know about that part of it until I was an adult), so I virtually grew up without a father in my life. But I did grow up in Washington, D.C., the capital of our country and the most powerful city in the world! I played in the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and spent many hours roaming the halls of the old Smithsonian Museums on my own and on many class trips. I watched Eisenhower’s second inaugural parade from the second floor of the Office building where my mother worked. I stood on Pennsylvania Avenue and watched the horse pulled caisson roll by carrying the body of JFK on it’s way to lie in state at the Capital Rotunda. I used to take buses and streetcars to any place in the city, but I usually enjoyed just walking places – even when I came home from college in the early ’70’s. I loved being surrounded by history, politics, and national attention.
Old folks use to die in their sixties, and I guess some still do, but now days – especially from my perspective – sixties doesn’t seem so old. I don’t feel old. Age really is just a number. We have to decide how that number makes us feel. I’ve been treated for blood clots in my leg the last three weeks and it seems to be going well. However, at my doctor’s appointment last week, he twice reminded me that it could have killed me. I love to quote his most captivating line. “Fifty percent of all blood clots are diagnosed postmortem!” That will get your attention! In all honesty, it didn’t scare me or make me worry about leaving this world sooner than expected. (Aren’t all deaths considered premature – at least by the one who died?) No, I have had too many wonderful years of growing, learning, experiencing, sharing, and faith-building! I have had a life full of loving relationships with family, friends, and the family of God! Why would I worry about needing more? It could have all ended but it didn’t – and that is only the times I know about! I’ll never know how many times God’s agents intervened to keep me around a little longer!
I praise and thank God for sixty-seven years of life. It’s my prayer that He gives me many more, but I won’t feel cheated if I don’t get another day. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get drafted to be an Agents of Light! I wonder if I can get some swordsmanship classes around here? Can you get a Concealed Carry for a rapier?