When I was very young, being married to the right partner seemed a good idea. At some point, between 18 and 28, I came to the conclusion that being single was really better. Having your own life, dependent on no one and answerable to no one (beyond those to whom you owed allegiance because they paid you) made a lot of sense.
Fifty-one years ago that changed for me. I discovered that there was one person in the world meant for me, and for whom I was meant. It was one of those rare moments in life when you just know something is true, and in fact, can have no other interpretation. Fortunately, I was wise enough to recognize the truth of that moment, and so was she. It hardly seems possible that more than half-a-century later, it is still true. For both of us. We are now at that awkward stage when the end is closer than the beginning, but (at least to me) it seems infinitely more distant. Perhaps it is because I can’t imagine life any other way. It may be, too, my personal perspective that says I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
In my time I have been an actor, a disc jockey (when that applied only to radio), a news reader (not a journalist), a draftsman in an architectural firm, a carpenter, and all of the skilled crafts associated with making films. All of those jobs were part of my journey to the writer’s life, and living. I enjoyed all of them, and other jobs that formed my skill-sets and outlook and work ethic. If there is a problem, it is in not knowing which I liked the most, what I would like to do next, what I want to be when I grow up.
Years ago we helped an elderly (meaning a little older than I am now) friend through the last years of her life. Mary was a survivor, meeting and beating back the kinds of life problems that many others could not withstand. She maintained an enthusiasm for life, for fun, for getting the most out of her days and nights, and until the very end remained in control of her life with a tenacity that was remarkable.
Which brings me to October. It is the month in which I was born, the month we were married, the month our youngest granddaughter was born, and our friend Mary’s birth month. I share these dates with you because they inform a lot of my personal philosophy. When the world in which we live is preparing for winter, looking at browns and reds and falling leaves, I am thinking about the spring to come; about green and growth and tomorrow.
And I think about Mary. Near the end, perhaps the last birthday party we shared, I still remember a quiet moment when Mary looked at me, winked, and said conspiratorially, "We got away with it." Well, not yet for me, at least.
I still wonder, what will I be when I grow up?