Today Ruth and Chris and I attended the memorial service of a man of great personal and professional achievment. He had also suffered many losses, overcome difficulties in his ninetyone years, and been the center of a community in which he was truly loved. He published his last professional book only a year ago. I loved it that Ruth and Chris took Liam to the service and explained that it was to celebrate the life of John's grandfather who had died. At the end of the reception Ruth had Liam give John a big soft hug and tell him he was sorry that his grandfather had died. That moment was so sweet - the teaching of manners and empathy, the circle of birth and death, river of generations. One of the participants in the community eulogy called the deceased Air Force Colonel, professor, widower, grandfather, friend a mensch, and of course that is what we are hoping to raise Liam to be - a good man who lives for the whole world, not just for his own pleasures.
The other thing that struck me at the service was that I am half way in age between Ruth and the man who died. Of course I may not make ninty, or even sixty one. Who knows. But somehow knowing how much he accomplished in the last thirty years, and seeing many of his friends healthy and articulate in their seventies and eighties, gave me a kind of wake up call. I'm not old and I don't have to think about life winding down. It could stop at any moment, sure, but it could have stopped at any past moment. I'm not just tying up loose ends, like I have sometimes though lately. I'm here and may very well have time for significant new chapters. It still matters what I do, what I choose. I am so thankful to Richard and his friends for this lesson.