By Bruce Stambaugh
As I push into my 60s, I’m having the time of my life. At home, at work, at social and church functions, community gatherings, I enjoy the people I’m with.
But as I take advantage of the senior citizen discounts, I am also more than cognizant of my current station in life. Being an active member of the Sandwich Generation, I never know what any particular day will bring.
Some days are filled with excitement and anticipation. Like when our daughter informed us that her family will be leaving Texas and moving to the Commonwealth of Virginia. My wife and I were thrilled.
Come June, we will be just a short six-hour drive away from our precious grandchildren and their equally precious parents. It will be a whole lot handier to spoil the grandkids in Virginia than Texas.
However, there are days when I really don’t want to answer the phone, fearful that a relative or friend has incurred some catastrophe. I consider myself to be a positive thinker and an equally positive person. But as life’s varying circumstances unfold, the chances for bad news seem to increase the older I get.
My mother and mother-in-law both live in the same assisted living facility. When its phone number appears on the caller ID, ambivalent thoughts race through my mind.
Is a nurse calling to say that my mother is ill or my mother-in-law has taken a tumble? Both have happened. However, more often than not, it’s simply my mother-in-law calling with an inconsequential question or to share some special news.
Too much unpleasantness has happened to family and friends that has trained me to be cautious. I know I am not alone in having these apprehensions. My peers have confessed the same fleeting fears.
The unpleasantry can be as variable as the wind. You never know what direction or with what force it will hit you.
My older brother and his family had looked forward to a tour of Italy. They had to cancel it last year when both my brother and his wife each had their separate, serious health issues.
They rescheduled the trip and were anticipating a sunny and fun-filled time together. Then the volcano in Iceland let loose, and like thousands of others, their flight was canceled due to the huge ash plume that covered Europe. They returned home doubly disappointed.
About the same time and only hours after her husband had left for his new job in Virginia, our daughter had emailed us that their neighbor, a man I considered their surrogate Texas grandfather, had died. I truly wanted to jump on a jet and parachute into their backyard.
In actuality, I knew there was little I could do in the flesh. We asked how we could help, but some things in life are beyond human intervention and control. That is both the reality and mystery of life, not just for my family or people I know. It is the way of all creatures great and small.
Some days are glorious and exhilarating. Others are dark and perplexing. They are devoid of anything even resembling fun, although the sun may be shining brightly.
As I enjoy the benefits and honor of being a husband, father, son, brother, grandfather and friend, I am aware that life has both its alphas and its omegas. At this point in my life, I try to remember that every time the phone rings.