“If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
Words from an old colleague of mine.
About three years ago I went under the knife of an orthopedic surgeon to remedy constant and significant pain that was the byproduct of a poorly handled bunionectomy way back in 1977.
I would have loved to put all the blame on that doctor because, without taking X-rays, he had simply whittled away on the end of a bone that was found to be OK, but significantly out of place. (I would learn this years later.)
However, the doc was not the only one who used bad judgment with my body. I jogged a couple of miles daily with my foot wrapped in bandages. “Like a tough guy,” said 26-year-old Curt, who also went back to work weeks before he should have.
“Like a fool,” says nearly 65-year-old Curt, who has proven that even a Neanderthal can learn something.
I believe reminiscing over short stories like this is the byproduct of a broad swath of my psyche that has been taken over by one obsession: aging.
Why do I forget so many things and lose so many things? Where do these crazy needle-prick pains come from? What’s with all this heavy breathing from carrying something a third as heavy as what I used to carry?
A buddy of mine once told me that when a guy reaches a certain age, the hair on his head stops growing and is actually sucked back inside his cranium, from where the hair is directed to emerge from his nostrils and his ears.
If life was like driving a car, I would be able to see miles and miles of memories — good, bad, things to be proud of, things I’m not proud of, witnessing birth, witnessing death, and all that is between — in my rearview mirror. Not so much, anymore, through the windshield.
Good stewards, God has given us, especially as we age, tremendous gifts. As for me, I will make sure to take care of my sins through God’s mercy and reconciliation. I will learn also to forgive myself.
As I age, I will add to my daily prayer time. I will use my meager talents for the glory of God and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will give myself to Jesus — bad memory, aching and squeaky knees, lost sunglasses, and all.
Curt Hanson is executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of St. Cloud and director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.