I look at that in print and I'm astounded. How is it that I have not only lived over half a century but kids who once played with my son now have children of their own? Most of my friends from my past are now grandparents - some of them may times over. Yet I'm still the same. I don't feel any different....
OK, maybe I feel a little different. I have aches and pains from the years of physical activity that either injured me at the time or injured me without my knowledge. Those keep showing up every now and then to remind me I probably overdid it a little in my younger days. My knees are pretty well shot and I have some arthritis in my hands and shoulders. But it's not enough to keep me down.
In my mind and heart I'm still a young man. I'm old enough to to have acquired a vast amount of knowledge about life but young enough to still not know everything. I have enough experience that some people come to me for advice and enough wisdom to tell them "I don't know" if that's the truth.
Life has dealt me some difficult hands to play at times. I can't deny that. But through the grace and kindness of a loving God I managed (He and I managed) to pull me through those difficult times to where I am today - happy, healthy (for the most part) and sharing my life with a wonderful woman who loves me for who I am. There are things about my life I would change if I could but not many. And I wouldn't trade where I am today for anything.
When I was a kid we used to talk about how old we would be at the turn of the century. I was going to be 42 on January 1, 2000. Back then it was so far away and my entire life was ahead of me. Now the year 2000 is far away again - but it's the other way.
Fourteen years ago last night I was Captain at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. At about 11pm I went in to the institution to be there just in case any or all the predictions about Y2K came to pass. Fence alarms, computer systems, lighting systems and electronic locks were all at risk according to the predictions.
For about 50 minutes I wandered around and talked to the staff working the Morning Watch. They were all surprised to see me but pleased that I took time out from my own New Year's Eve celebration to come by and make sure everything was OK.
Midnight came and went. Who'd have thought, as we kids talked about the year 2000, that I'd be standing on the compound of a federal prison when that moment arrived. It was interesting though. From the area in front of the Lieutenants' Office you could see (between the buildings and across the Rec Yard) fireworks in three or four small suburbs of Miami, all at the same time.
Of course, Y2K was a non-event. I stayed at the institution until about 12:15 just to be sure, then went back home.
Fourteen years have passed since that night. I have moved 5 times and have finally settled in my permanent home. Amazingly, it's not in Florida and even more amazingly - I'm OK with that. My life is great and I'm happier than I've been in a lot of years. And I thank God and Arden for making that happen.
Happy New Year to all. May God give you happiness, health, peace of mind and all the love you can handle. That's what He has given to me!