I turned 65 this month, and like Woody Allan, have become obsessed about my mortality. Have I done all I wanted to do? Will I be remembered…fondly? Will I be missed? Did I leave my mark or simply slip away as just another name/number?
I don’t feel old, and even though retired from the nine-to-five routine, I try keep busy with acting, writing, and music. But somewhere in the back of my brain, I know the end is coming. Hopefully, not tomorrow, or next month, but certainly sooner than the years gone by so far.
In your twenties, thirties or even forties, you rarely think about death (unless under fire in combat conditions, like during my three years in the Army). I think it starts when you see people you know start to go. My grandfather went at 56 and my father at 58. Gives you pause.
And somebody is always making lists of the departed. My twenty-year high school reunion’s souvenir booklet had a column on classmates no longer with us. The entertainment award shows always have a segment called “In Memoriam.” Faces of our beloved TV and film actors flash before us, accompanied by the latest sad song. I find myself daily reading the well-written L.A. Times obituaries and marveling at the accomplishments of the famous people who have gone into the light.
Bucket List is now part of our vocabulary as we watch Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman try to squeeze in those last few important things or apologize for those things that we still regret. But do I really need to swim with the sharks? (Oh wait, I already did that).
I have a nagging need to write it down. But who, besides yourself, really cares if those you met & admired and were important in your life are gone? So, stop reading here if you like, because the rest of this is for the record.
In Memoriam: Delores Jones, mother; Arthur Jones, father; Joe Wharton, uncle; Inez & Dick Speakman, aunt & uncle; Stu & Beverly Jones, aunt & uncle; grandparents-Arthur, Minnie, Bud, Madonna, Henry, Inez and William; Rosemary H. Chaffins, my speech and drama teacher at Tecumseh High; Roy Bowen, OSU drama teacher & director of “Children At Play;” Eileen Heckart, academy award-winning actress and fellow thespian in “Children At Play;” John Morrow, OSU theater teacher; Lawrence & Lee; Margaret Hamilton; Ray Walston; Charlton Heston; Peter Graves; Lynn Redgrave; Christopher Reeve; Anthony Newley; and Buffalo Bob Smith.
Some of those influential folks are still around…and I say, good for them…and thanks!