Early Winter

early wiinter

When my father, Frank, was my age, he’d already retired from years of long hours as a tool and die maker to take care of my mother, Florence, who was dealing with the effects of diabetes.  My Mom would never make it to my age.  This comes to mind because I am working through a book, Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, with someone I sponsor.  The book is about grieving, not just loss through the passing of loved ones but the loss in relationships and of dreams.    If you haven’t been around 12-Step programs, that probably seems like a strange way for two men to pass Wednesday afternoons.  For the most part, moving through the pages has made me aware of the fortunate life I’ve lived, but we all lose friends as we age … and I think even the most fortunate among us have broken dreams.  Mine mostly involve my now grown children, so perhaps there’s hope.  That’s what the book is about.

In this already wistful mood, I found my way to Susan’s blog, coming east, and read her somewhat wistful post, Vintage Wine.  For the most part, I could have written it.  She talked about her Dad and his favorite song, Frank Sinatra’s It Was a Very Good Year. My Dad wasn’t a music lover but Sinatra’s album, September of My Years, is one of my favorites and perhaps the best recording ever made about growing older.   My favorite from that album would be This is All I Ask, with the the lyric, Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me.  Take me to that strange enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand:

Susan writes about her mostly positive feelings as she approaches the autumn of her life. Like most things these days, it got me thinking. Frank Sinatra was 50 years old when he recorded September of My Years. Susan is younger than I am by some years (that’s all I’ll have to say about that!). So, if it’s the autumn of her years and Old Blue Eyes was in the September of his years at fifty, where the hell am I? It must at least be Early Winter.

The truth is, it feels more like Winter lately anyway. More often I awake with little aches and pains that have no logical explanation. Lately, I notice that I’m sweating and hot when the weather is cool. Is there a male menopause at sixty-nine?  A good night’s sleep is a rare luxury.  I find myself wistful more often and I think about changes I’d like to see before I die. I feel life more deeply, a good thing except when the sadness gets too deep or the anger too hot.  I love more and more often, whether it’s family, friends, music or a sunny day.  Susan says that she understands her Dad more in the autumn of her years. In the Winter of mine, I sometimes am my Dad, whether I’m remembering a lesson he taught or something slightly inappropriate slips from my tongue … and Muri and I have a laugh about it. Listening to music, I recall how my mother’s love of music … and art … and nature … gave me mine. In my Winter, I’ve found faith … not anyone else’s but my own. I may be wistful but I am incredibly grateful for the life I’ve been given, warts and all. I can live with some snow flurries and I’ll worry about the blizzards when they come.

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5 Comments on “Early Winter”

  1. As is my tendency, I just did a little bit of research and found that, in 1965, when Frank was 50, the life expectancy for men was 66.8 years. Now, it’s 76. So if he was in autumn at 50 when the life expectancy was ten years shorter than it is now… you’re only nine years past where he was then. Late autumn, I’d say. Maybe it’s Halloween. 😉

    This is a nice post, but you’ve got me a bit scared about one thing: my friend Joey has told me he thinks I feel things more deeply than most people do. I don’t know if I’ll be able to tolerate an even deeper sense as I get older!

  2. Coming East Says:

    Wonderful post, Bud, and thanks for mentioning me. By the way, I am not so much younger than you. I will be signing up for Medicare this month or the next. As for your feelings of sadness, I feel that, too, more often than I want to admit. I don’t think it’s regret so much, though there is certainly some of that, but the sadness of missing people and the knowledge that my end is not so far off. I love life, and I’m sad that it has to end. I’m sad knowing my passing will make my children sad. I worry about George passing before I do (he has promised that we’re going together). The problem is, all this sadness saps the joy out of the days I do have. It makes me mad at myself.

  3. Missy Craig Says:

    My Dad once said to me that he didn’t know where the last 50 years had gone. He was a jokester, so I thought he was being funny! Now I know he meant every word. As a football star in the 40’s, and a WWII veteran, he was a John Wayne clone. In his last decade (he died two years ago at the age of 85) he became extremely sentimental and would choke up at a grandchild’s sports game or hearing a favorite hymn. He was sad knowing it was the twilight and he was feeling deeply. I so get it now. Thanks for your insightfulness!

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