So there you are approaching your 70th year floating merrily down the stream, needing to reach for the paddle only occasionally, while filling bird feeders and trying to stay on your feet in the winter and weeding vegetables and working on your tan in the summer, making sure the dogs and cats get plenty of head scratches and your true love fresh cut flowers no matter the season, keeping your hand in the writing game with a blog post here and a book there, when the phone rings.
"Our old friend So and So is dead," the caller says solemnly.
Far too much of that going on these days. But at the risk of seeming maudlin, my thoughts turn to friends departed with the waning of the year, and I'd like to remember them:
Bob Andrews, Beth Gulledge Bailey, Nancy Bennett, Becky Buckson, David Carruthers, Jasmine Clower, Michael Crowley, Joe Cunane, Dale Dallabrida, Paul Damico, Tom Daniels, Eddie Day, Doug Eppes, Nick Fallon, Larry Fenza, Michael Frettoloso, John Gregg, Brad Grimm, Willie Hemphill, Dave Kibler, Pattie Kibler, Shannon Kibler, Wendy Knoedler, Jim McCarthy, Muggs McGinnis, Donna Manning, Collette Molloy, Tom Molyneux, Alan Murphy, Larry Newbold, Mario Pazzaglini, Prairie Weather, Doug Prior, Rochelle Samuels, Mark Scherer, Rob Schmitt, John Southard, Bob Stewart, Paul Storm, Genny Porter Swan, Alan Teel, Nick Tuke, Ed Wesolowski.
Please forgive any omissions.
If I could have only one song with me on the proverbial desert island, it would be "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison. It has been a steady companion since I bought his great Moondance album in 1970. A snippet of the lyric:§
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows
I will be coming home, mmm mmm
And when the fog horn blows
I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it . . .
Too late to stop now
"Into the Mystic" -- the words and melody ethereally flowing together as one -- is about a spiritual quest. (I know that’s true because Wikipedia told me so.) But over the years the song has become much more -- an affirmation of life for me, and I would like to think for my generation, should we choose to embrace its sentiments, as well as an anthem of lives lived as we float down that stream, merrily or otherwise, after leaving this mortal coil.
I am honored that my path intersected with friends departed, and I am a better person because it did. The fog horn has blown for them and they will be coming home.
It is indeed too late to stop now.