On Friday, Oct. 20, some 66 years ago, Irma Lee Richardson had a bouncing baby boy. Her husband, Richard, I am told, said the child looked just like him. That little bouncing boy was me and I have been compared in looks, even in temperament, to my father by those who knew him.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen much anymore. My brother knew him and he’s the only one left who remembers him well. I’m a Richardson; my brother’s a Mothershed. Don’t ask, it’s a long delightful story about five families from a hollow about a mile east of Hwy. 71 in lower west Arkansas about 30 miles north of Shreveport, Louisiana. That’s where my mother was from. My father was from Ohio. Don’t know much else about his family.
As each calendar year turns over a notch, I keep wondering when am I going to get old? I don’t feel old, and they say age is just a number. That’s only partially true. Age is sneaky. It happens so gradually we don’t realize it’s happening until we get certain clues.
Some of my first clues — and these started long before now — were when words my mother spoke started to come true. For example, she told me there would be a day when I would read the obituary page of the newspaper every day. Darn if she wasn’t right.
I check first to see if I know the dearly departed, and there is a chance that I either know someone on the page or know someone who knows someone on the page. While our obits don’t carry the cause of death, we generally do carry the departed’s birth and death dates. Friday, there was one man, much younger than I, who had gone home, but on the other hand, there was a woman from Sandersville, Margaret Jordan Carr, who saw her 104th birthday. One of God’s blessings is that we don’t know when our clock will tick its last.
When my mother first started saying that to me it was particularly jarring. You see, I thought, and secretly still do, that I would live forever. I know, I read too many comic books as a child. I have a clear case of delusional thinking.
No, I’m not crazy. If I were going to live forever in this body I’m not sure I’d want to hang around. It’s still a perfectly good body, mind you, but it is showing signs of wear and tear. This past year doctors found that I have some issues at L2 and L3 in my back. If you have to ask what that means you’re too young to want to know.
My other physician reports have come back great, considering I have type 2 diabetes (under control) and, according to the BMI (Body Mass Index) chart, I’m obese. What you say? Obese, me? Yep. According to the chart — at my height — I need to weigh 179 pounds, a place this body has not seen since junior high school.
Every time my doctor tells me to lose more weight — and I have lost quite a bit over the last few years — a song from “Man of La Mancha,” pops up in my head as I try to pay attention to his annual BMI speech, “To dream ... the impossible dream ... To fight ... the unbeatable foe.”
I’m certainly not Don Quixote, but I still think his spirit is needed, now more than ever and it has nothing to do with weight loss. Joe Darion, author of the lyrics captured Quixote, who everyone thought crazy, which he was, because he was “willing to march into Hell”, for what he thought was a “Heavenly cause.”
Quixote, had something many of us have lost or forgotten. Something I’m trying hard to maintain. Quixote, for all of his lunacy, had faith. He wanted to be true to his “glorious quest,” because he knew his heart would “lie peaceful and calm,” when “laid to his rest.”
Whatever your quest is; whoever your unbeatable foe; be true. That’s my birthday gift to you. I may not live forever, but I’m going to die trying.