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Do your best ... lifelong

February 21, 2023
By Mike Weland

I'm 64. In years, I've far outlived a sister, my mother. My grandparents, my dad. my stepson, my daughter. Two cousins. Some of the kids with whom I went to school, some my comrades at arms, though we were never thrown into the fray. I had a stroke at age 53, a second two years later, each taking away parts of me, but neither taking the life of me. I still don't know whether it's been a blessing or a curse. But it's not for me to decide. All I can do is trudge forward.

I'm 64. Arthritis has set in to take away more of what little mobility I had left. My eyes are growing more dim. After years of smoking and daring and drinking, my breath grows shorter by the day. The time I have to do that which must be done to keep house, to take care of myself is far more limited.

The problem is, when you're in decline, there is no anticipating how or when each new weakness or limitation will manifest itself. If you come into my house (backdoor, please) and look at the back of the door, you'll see a hole. My cat pulled a wet sock out of the wash bin and what was easy yesterday wasn't and I couldn't quite reach,. Silly!

I tried again. Didn't fall, but slumped forward. My hand grasping the sock, my legs pinned against the cellar door and my head stuck between my chair and the only door in, I was good and well stuck.

It took seven hours, but I pulled down a broom, wedged it from the stove and crashed it into the door, creating a bar by which I straightened my neck and pulled my way free. Nothing heroic ...necessary. I 'm an 82nd Airborne paratrooper. I am too stupid to stop.

I went out in the worst of this winter's weather  to shovel and fell in the snow. I don't know why I fought, but I managed to climb back in my chair. The tires spun but went nowhere ... I let go my cane, kicked off my slippers and gained just enough traction in my bare feet to make it back inside the gate, through a 90-degree right turn and back in the house.

I'm 64. I should have died April 22, 2012. I cried for years that only I had, and in so praying I let slip my family.

I'm 64, and I now realize I should have started living April 22, 2012.

I started that morning working in the yard, tending our chickens, feeding our Muscovy ducks. April 22, 2012, was a beautiful day. It's taken me this long to realize every day since has been even more wonderful.

When my wife Debbie brought me home, I went out and saw a garden off to a good start ... the chickens and ducks who had scratched, pecked, quacked and chased me seeming happy to see me.

Instead of being grateful, I resented that I was useless. I couldn't cart the feed.

I'm 64. It's not my call as to be dead or alive.

I still get up thinking I am whole, and falling down still hurts, especially when I wake forgetting I'm a cripple.

I still think of the things I did right once upon a time, and regret those many mistakes I never intended.

I was an Army brat. I experienced much that many never imagined. Teresa Springer, the most beautiful girl I was given to know, kissed me on the cheek but refused to wave when our parent tore us apart forever in second grade.

It was Bicky in third grade, Penny in fifth.

I'm 64, and it's just now dawning on me ... I tried. I did. But never as good as I might have. I did my best to teach myself and I refused to listen to those who offered so much.

I'm 64. I will never be the writer I dreamed I'd be. I will never be a musician. I'm 64, and I don't know if I have time left to learn.

I could die tomorrow, but I pledge I will live today and do my best to learn from this time until the day comes when I drink in my last breath, feel the last beat of my heart.

And I will tell everyone this: Live. Play. Learn. Love. Love more. Give. Learn more. Teach. If we have blood flowing through our veins, we are one. If you speak to anyone who insists he or she is better, you are talking to a coward. We all share equally this singular space and time, and we all ought to be grateful for the privilege. Were I not a damned old cripple, I'd ask each one of you to teach me. You would each make me a better man.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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