Let me list some life-threatening things that have befallen us, my wife and me, along our way together through these many years—
- a head-on collision that totalled our car, from which we walked away shaken, scathed, but alive;
- a diabolical attempt on our lives by an unhinged assailant, foiled only by the most fortunate of circumstances;
- a last-minute, lifesaving operation in the wee dawn hours by a dedicated surgeon who removed my colon before the disease ravaging it could snuff me forever;
- the onset of cancer, that most insidious of diseases—once for me, twice for her—held successfully at bay, so far, by equally dedicated doctors;
- a severe lacunar stroke that struck her without warning, treated as quickly as possible, from which she has recovered to the point of resuming her tennis and golf endeavours.
It’s a grim list, to be sure, not one we enjoy recalling. And yet, here we are, still alive, still able to remember each and every event.
Let me cite now another list, this one of life-altering blessings we have been allowed to experience together on our journey—
- two amazing daughters and their loving husbands, who love and esteem us beyond what we deserve;
- five loving grandchildren, only just awakening to the limitless possibilities dawning before them;
- siblings, six in total now, whom we have known and loved for more years than seems possible;
- fast and faithful friends, both new and old—as the children’s song says, the one silver, the other gold;
- a beautiful home on a lake in Ontario, another on a freshwater pond in Florida, each a place of inspiration and respite;
- a creative penchant that allows us the opportunity to craft things where there was nothing before—pottery and glass-sculpting for her, music and writing for me.
This is a much happier list than the first for so many reasons, the most important being that, where the first comprises things from our past—never to be revisited, we hope—the second embraces blessings we continue to enjoy. And that enjoyment follows from a belief that, as Robert Browning wrote, …the best is yet to be. Through the hardships, it is that belief that sustained us.
An old Russian folk-tune (for which English lyrics were composed several years ago) speaks to the reminiscences of people my age upon their vanished youth, and recalls their once-cherished romantic idealism—
Those were the days, my friend, / We thought they’d never end…
I’m happy to say that, so far, they haven’t. We’re still singing and dancing.