GROWING OLDER AND LOOKING BACK

This year I turn 60yrs old.  Many out there will scoff and say, “Hey your just a youngster.”, true, but it is a milestone in my life.  It’s also the first time in my life I’ve stopped and thought about getting old.  I guess the reason it hit me so hard was the fact I had to turn in my paper work to collect my Army Reserve pension.  As I was doing this it really stuck to me – PENSION!  I’d put in over 20yrs service in the Army Reserve to earn this right.  It was one of my long term goals.  Even when I got my 20yr letter stating I now qualified for a pension at 60yrs, it never really struck me as 60yrs old was still a long way away – lots of water under the bridge.  Now I’m finally crossing that bridge!

Growing up time was something I had lots of.  When going to school I remember the three months summer vacations.  Yea I worked most of the time, but there was always time for baseball, tennis, swimming, fishing, camping and a host of other things.  It was almost endless and as school time rolled around again in the fall I was ready for it again.  Then I advance to the grown up world.

I landed my first “real” job as a truck mechanic at J.R. Simplot company working the night shift.   Now I had to knuckle down to work schedule, but it was ok.  My Dad had taught me well the ethics of work and I’d somehow “learned how to work”.  It wasn’t just learning the job, but the self discipline, desire, responsibility and much more my Dad taught me.  These lessons have stayed with me all my life and all I can say is THANKS.  Even at this job I had plenty of time.  I’d bought my first car – ’69 Camero and a really nice Honda 750 (4) motorcycle.  I had wheels for every season and they got used!

My 20s slid by.  I got married and divorced, I’d landed a few jobs and got experience in many fields.  Then the dream job was bless upon me – professional guide.  I worked this job until I was 36 and moved to Denmark.  These years I look back upon as my golden years.  I was blessed to work, live and do what so many people only dream about.

I remember turning 30yrs old.  I’d always heard 30, wow, this was really the age.  As the day rolled around I waited – nothing really happened.  I felt no different, life didn’t change, but I did notice as I was planning things, time seemed to pick up a bit.  The back country really had an effect on time.  I’d be up working and I’d have to stop and count how many day’s I’d been there, think about which day I’d started up.  Days of the week really had no meaning.  All I had to do is remember the trip was so many days and just count.  As far as time went, I never carried a watch (still don’t).  My life was so in tune with nature I could look at the sun and tell you just about what time of day it was.  The sun came up and went down, that’s how I tracked time.

40yrs old rolled around and I found myself deployed on Operation Joint Endeavor – or Bosnia and many of you will remember (Dec 95 – Sep 96).  I’ll never forget my 40th birthday, I was looking over the Sava River running between Croatia and Bosnia.  My team, I say “my” as I was the Senior NCO of a team at Cowboy TOC.  We did the command and control for every vehicle crossing the river to and from Bosnia.  Not only did I do my share of the daily work, but I was also responsible for the health and welfare of the entire team.  Being deployed was different.   Sometimes time moved fast and other days time moved real slow.

50yrs old came.  That year I spent my birthday as a friend’s house.  He, like me was a farrier and we were getting ready to take our qualification test.  I spent the day helping him train for making shoes.  We had certain types of shoes to make and they had to be a specific size as well.  I never told him it was my birthday as it wasn’t important.  The important thing was I helped him train for his test which he passed!  A while later it was my turn to take the test and I passed mine as well.  But it was a little strange, time seemed to slip by faster now.  I’d find myself trying to juggle my work schedule to keep all my customers happy.  I’d look back and think – “I’ve been in Denmark this long?”.  It just didn’t seem possible.  It only seemed like last year I’d been working as a professional guide, but that was 14 years ago!  How could time have passed so fast.

April I will be 60yrs old and time is completely out of control!  There is no time any more.  Many times it seems like a day just started and I look at the clock in my van and it’s the end of the day – where did it go?  This past January/February I took a trip home.  I saw many people I hadn’t seen in years.  As I’d leave their place I’d think to myself, “Boy so-n-so looks old”  But then I got to thinking, “I wonder if they are saying that about me?” – I bet they did.  I’ve had time to look back at some of the things in life I’ve had a chance to do and did:  I dabbled in rodeo, saddle bronc and had a great time; drove truck for a while and got to see some country; road motorcycle all around the northwest and a few other parts and it was fun;  one winter and spring I rode a Honda CR250 playing on the flat track.  I completed over 22yrs with the Army Reserve and reached the rank of Sergeants Major – to include three deployments and assignments in many different countries.  I’ve traveled Europe and got a friend I visit every year in Portugal.  I’ve become an experienced train traveler and enjoyed the benefits.  I’ve experienced life, seen death.  I’ve been so scared that even years later it still stays with me.  I’ve been shot at, mortared, missed having my life taken by a thread.  I’ve experienced the best of people and seen the worst humans have to offer.  Much of this I’ve written about in my two book – GUIDE’S LIFE and  THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN.  Oh yea, almost forgot, I’m a published author (not famous and haven’t quite my day job).  I look at the friends I’ve made and to all of you – THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR GIVING OF YOURSELVES TO ME.  I just hope I’ve been able to a friend to you as well.

My life’s road has had many “Ts”, “Ys”, turns and ruts.  I’ve run into some dead ends, but never gave up.  An old guy many moons ago told me, “If there’s something in life you have a chance to do, do it.  Because there will come a time when you won’t have that chance and if you didn’t take it, you’ll look back and say – Gee, I wish I’d have done that!”  With this advice and the grace of God I’ve had a great life.  I’m on the downhill side now and still looking forward to it.  The only regret I have is I still can’t control that darn thing called TIME!