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Daily Journal
     November 11, 2020      #98-316 KDJ

Dennis Marek: I am on the back nine 

By Dennis Marek

As we approached the disruptive election on Nov. 3, many of us wished the TV ads would end, that the days could just fly away. Let the couple of weeks go by quickly. But wait. That is wishing away days and weeks, days and weeks of what is left of our lives. I think back to reading “Catch-22” many years ago and remember the protagonist pilot cherished his boredom. Why? Because when bored, time dragged on more slowly and as a fighter pilot during the war, he was sure he would die. So every minute, hour and day that was dragging out seemed like more life as went slowly. What a terrible thing to seek, boredom.

Time moves quickly enough the way it is and often catches us unaware for a while. It seems only yesterday that I was young and starting on my life as a brand new lawyer in Kankakee. Yet, in a way, it seems eons ago. Where did all those years go? We had all those hopes and dreams. Some quite serious about family and profession. And then some more mundane like lowering one’s handicap in golf. Now I am on the back nine of my life and looking at it in reverse.

I am sure that we all remember when we saw older people, and we couldn’t imagine being that age. But now it is here. Many of my friends are gray, retired or, in more and more cases, gone to their rest. We are now the older folks who we used to see and thought we would never become. We now have aches and pains more often, but they are accepted as part of life. Yes, we see chiropractors and take Advil, but it’s always there.

Of course you tire a bit more quickly. That afternoon nap is not a treat as much as it is mandatory. You forget names of people who never should be forgotten. You often remember events differently than your spouse, and she is usually right. You seem to use more four letter words. No, not bad ones, but like “when” and “what.” Your hearing drives you to the ear doctor. Your freckles become liver spots. You take blood thinners so you can bruise easily and bleed with the merest encounter with a harder object.

Many of us had a life of opportunity. Sure, we can look back and wish a few changes, but we did the best we could in most cases. I was blessed with the chance to do many things be it travel, education, teaching or learning while I was still working. In that, I have no regrets. Did I wait too long to retire and miss out on that “free time” when there is no work requirements filling my day? I don’t think so. I loved my work, and did it for 50 years. But had we known of the pandemic, I might have started this new freer life a bit earlier.

So if you aren’t on the back nine of your life yet, just remember it comes more quickly than you think. I once read that life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster it spins. And for some, life is shorter altogether, be it disease or accident. You really don’t even know if you are on the back nine. There are no promises guaranteeing any certain number of years.

Perhaps, aging can be illustrated by golf. I was a member of the Kankakee Country Club for many years and played the same 18 holes hundreds of times. The clearest reminder of aging is seeing where your tee shots land today rather than where they used to land. The fifth hole is a par four dog-leg to the right. You need to hit the tee shot at least 200 yards or the trees on the right side will block the next shot to the green. At the end of the fairway, however, is a bunker. So a nice long drive is necessary, but too long finds the sand trap at the end of the fairway. For years I could not hit my driver as it would go into the sand. The last few years I can’t hit my driver far enough to clear those trees for an open second shot. My aging is illustrated by the way I played that hole over the years. I guess now I am on “the back nine of my life span.”

In many ways, there is nothing wrong with old. We all relish old things be they songs, old movies and memories those younger don’t have. But the best old things are your old friends. Take the time to find them and enjoy them. They were your old friends. So, take some Advil. Do those stretching exercises. Get that extra sleep, and then go enjoy what you have left of the back nine. So you have to chip around the corner on No. 5. Being on the back nine sounds a whole lot better than “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Mr. Dylan.

Dennis Marek can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or through his personal email at dmarek@amb-ltd.com.

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