George

I’ve got a friend named George. He has been married for a very long time. George is quite old, and he had a heart-attack in September. He was in the hospital for 2 months, and some people thought that he probably wouldn’t be leaving after he checked in there… but the doctors sent him home two months later to his wife Frieda who is also elderly, but doesn’t seem hardly as old as he does now.

I felt badly because I meant to visit him while he was in the hospital for that lengthy stay. But life is so busy, and each day passed me by and I still hadn’t gone to visit. I was leaving for 2 weeks for Christmas and I knew I wanted to visit him before I left, so the day before I flew out I finally called and went over. A friend and I went to his house and sang Christmas carols for him for awhile, because I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to make it to church for Christmas eve. He reclined in his chair and closed his eyes. After each song, and whenever he thought a song was over (we were often just finishing a chorus or something), he would open his eyes and clap for us… and the cycle went like that for awhile.

Every time George’s wife would walk past him, he would grab her hand and kiss it and say ‘I love you’. She would walk to the kitchen and get a coffee, come back 30 seconds later and he would grab her hand and say ‘I love you’ again. And that continued all the while we were there.

George and his wife have moved into a different house without stairs and with way less ‘stuff’. Neither of them seem to mind that, in fact I think they’re quite happy to be living much more simply… and while I was there visiting and singing I found myself to be a bit jealous of that.

My son Jackson has a friend named George too. He is 8 years old and quite smart, and has his whole life ahead of him. He and Jackson play together and seem to have endless energy. ‘Young’ George and ‘old’ George actually have a lot in common except of course their age. And here I am almost exactly in the middle of the 2 of them age-wise, observing them both and realizing things about myself in the process.

I know it may seem melancholy to say this, but watching ‘young’ George and Jackson play, and then spending time singing carols for ‘old’ George and Frieda was a really good reminder for me of the finer things in life. To play. To live simply. To appreciate things that should be appreciated (like music or art). To tell my wife I love her every chance I get. To not be so busy all the time that I don’t make time to be with people that are important to me.

I’m not 8 years old anymore… far from the dawn of my life, but I’m also not yet 80 and in the twilight season. I’m right about smack dab in the middle, and I think I really needed those reminders. So I guess, George and George, I just want to say… thanks.