My grandfather told me at Christmas time that he was handing down his Navy memorabilia to my father “when I go,” as he phrases it. His hope, of course, is that it will be handed down to me, in time, and I will pass it along to my future children and grandchildren.
This way, his World War II items will remain in the Beardsley family for generations to come.
At 91 and confronting some of the normal struggles you experience in these twilight years, it’s understandable that he’s thinking more practically about the matter than he may have five or even 10 years ago. He’s also earned the right at this point to be specific about his wants and wishes.
It’s an odd and somewhat uncomfortable thing when you find yourself speaking in this matter to a loved one. Yes, it’s all a fact of life, but you never want to think too hard about the subject of death – until you need to, of course.
In Jerry Beardsley Sr.’s case (some of you may have seen him on stage during a local play or even shared the stage with him), he’ll even admit that he can’t ask for much more. He’s lived a long, full life and still is doing pretty well. I also know that he lives with the comfort that he will one day rejoin his wife, which is a sentiment many seniors share.
When he mentions the topic, though, I simply tell him not to rush himself. His family is certainly in no hurry for that day to come, so he shouldn’t be either.
With a little one on the way, I find that I’m thinking about my own mortality a little more than I used to. At 28, I’m certainly not counting down the days, but I am realizing that it’s not just about me anymore.
In a little less than two months, I’ll be responsible – with a little help, of course – for raising a human being, and doing the best job of that I possibly can. I want to make sure that I’m around for a long time to enjoy the fruits of labor, so to speak.
It’s an eye opener when your biggest worry turns from “I want to have the best vacation possible” to “I want my kid to have the best life possible.”
What a responsibility. On the other hand, what an honor.
If I was having a minor health problem in the past, more times than not I was young enough (and stubborn enough) to put off a doctor visit unless immediately necessary.
Since my wife told me she was pregnant, I’ve secured a new family doctor, asked for an array of blood tests, been poked and prodded in more areas than I care to admit and made an appointment with a cardiologist.
A cardiologist at 28, you ask? Yes, I am going a little overboard. But you’ve never seen the amount of red meat I can put away, not to mention the lack of green items in my diet.
Hey, just in case, right?
The point is, I’ve learned that a minor amount of hypochondria goes hand in hand with having a baby and probably only get worse once it’s actually here. I’m just making sure I take care of myself in order to take care of the baby.
My grandfather probably would tell you that he’s not quite sure what the secret is to a long life. He often shrugs and says with a hearty laugh “The Big Guy doesn’t want me – yet.”
All I know is that he’s been able to enjoy his family for a long time. So, I’ll have what he’s having.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, is a former Sun-Gazette reporter. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month. He may be reached at email@example.com.