I've been accused of being a "Debbie Downer" many times in my life, but for the most part, I don't think I am. I do think I'm a realist and try to look at things the way they are and not the way people fantasize them to be, so maybe that's where I get that bum wrap from. I don't sit around thinking about death and dying and all that crap all the time. Sure, I've spent a lot of time in the last two years thinking about death after my Mother passed away, but I think that's natural. But I don't think about me dying or even contemplate it.
Today was a little different, though. Not in that I sat at work all day thinking about what will happen when I die or how I'll die, but more about the fact that I'm getting older and I'm sitting comfortably in middle age. I'm not a kid anymore, no matter how youthful (immature) I may feel or act. My youth is long behind me, but I don't think I've ever really tried letting it go. I'm forty-seven years old and maybe it's time I should own up to it.
The mother of one of my childhood best friends passed away early this morning. I don't really have all the details, but I know she and her daughter were in a car accident back in October. My friend went through the windshield, but remarkably made it through the accident without any major issues. Her mother wasn't so lucky. She's been in the hospital ever since, surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure. It was all in vain as she passed away today. It got me to thinking about back when I was a small boy. We lived in Kinderhook, NY. The family next door had a son my age and a daughter my brother's age. The house next to them had a son my age and another my brother's. We were all very good friends. We lived there for maybe seven or eight years before my nomadic family packed up and started moving all over the northeast. So Kinderhook is the place that I consider my hometown even though I wasn't born there. That house is the first place I remember. I spent most of my formative years there. Whenever I'm in that part of the area, I always drive up my old street and just look at the houses and reminisce. Of the three families on that street (mine and the two families next to us), my Dad is the only parent still alive. Of my immediate peer group, I'm the only one still alive. The oldest sons of both the other families are long dead. The youngest kids are all still alive and kicking though. When I think about the parents, it makes me realize that I'm getting older. When I think about my peers, it scares me because this is too young to be passed away. It's a little hard for me to wrap my head around sometimes.
Last year, Mr. Kelly, the parent from two doors down passed away. He was still living in the same house. His son Eddie sold the house and was going to pack it up before it changed ownership. Unfortunately this happened the same week I was away on vacation. I was really anxious to try to get one last look at the house before it was too late. I even told him that if I wasn't going to be away, I'd be more than happy to lend a hand with whatever needed to be done, just to get one final glimpse of my childhood. At the very least, pictures were available on the real estate website and it made me smile to see how very little the house had changed in thirty-five years.
It's guess I'm just feeling a little sad today and a lot nostalgic. I think I had just about the best childhood I could hope for before we started moving around. I miss it. But I'll always have memories and photographs.