What marks a life well lived? Is it measured in the number of years spent alive? Should we be measured by how much money we made or our professional accomplishments? Maybe our lives are measured by the terms of our religions? Did we attend church regularly and pray every night before we went to sleep? Maybe we measure our lives’ success through what our children do. And what if you don’t have any children then; did you live a life not worthwhile? Maybe our lives are measured in terms of the number of people we helped. Perhaps we simply count the number of people who come to say goodbye at our funerals – the more people, the better a person you were.
Since my last short story, I attended a funeral and underwent a surgery; a surgery that could be performed by only one surgeon in this country. But that’s a story for a much later date.
If you are a regular reader, then you must have been on the edge of your seat, wondering if I would survive the surgery I had mentioned in my last story. Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you? So far, I’m still hanging in there.
Only a few weeks after my surgery, we said goodbye to a man, a man who touched my life and that of a few others; my father-in-law, Mel.
He worked with his hands; a carpenter. In every house that my wife and I ever lived in, he built or made something for us. He made a kitchen bar in our first house, a basketball court in our second, a huge oak double set of wall shelves and a finished basement in our third. And when we moved west, he helped my wife finish the kitchen cabinets. Even in our current AZ house, we have reminders – a small decorative table and a coat rack hanging in our garage; a rack made from vintage wooden golf club heads.
I cannot write a compendium of Mel’s life. I will tell you that he loved his wife of 65 years and that he tried to be a role model for the 4 children who survived him. His children loved him and I’m sure that was enough for Mel.
Like many of you, I’ve contemplated the question posed at the beginning of this short story. How will I measure my own success? I have always been a long term planner and a person who is singularly focused against my own long term plan; to make a better life for my wife and to allow my children to feel they have options.
For now, in the onset of my twilight years, I’m trying to follow The Golden Rule. I’m just trying to be nice and trying not to harm others, live and let live and enjoying the years I have left.
I want to be healthy and to live, but I am not afraid to die. I should have been killed as a seven year old when I was struck by a school bus. This life has been a freebie.
Was I successful? Sometimes belief isn’t about what we can see, sometimes it’s about what we cannot. I am not the person who should make a final judgment. I’ll leave that to my wife and children.
Mel, (my kids’ grandpa), was loved. He was successful.