Wednesday, June 30, 2010

385 In Dog Years

When I was born this house, the Barbagallo House," in Kimmswick, Missouri, was already 105 years old. I take comfort in that. Because I am now 385 years old in dog years. That's 55 in human years. VERY hard to believe. Staring down the barrel at 60? Not possible. Many people have expressed kindness to me today. I am grateful for the multitude of friends that God has given me. A few have been obstinate, reminding me that death is looming. Well, to them I only have one thing to say. I'll probably get to heaven before you will. And when I get there? When I get there I'm going to go mess up your room. That's IF you have a room. Uh-huh. Better think that through. Nothing worse than getting "short sheeted" in The New Jerusalem!

I've been asked what I've learned in 55 years of life. I've tried to boil it down to a few bullet points. For you young'ens ... read and learn.

-Never laugh at old guys. It's like laughing at your tomorrow. And the truth is, you might turn out uglier than the old guy you are laughing at.

-The more you learn the more you forget. It's inevitable. You can only retain so much. But as you increase in age the information you gather tends to be much more important than what you gathered in your younger days. Which means you forget what is least important. Unfortunately, you forget the very part that younger people remember. Because it isn't as important to you. This makes you an easy target for laughter or jokes. Don't let it bother you. Retain what is important and let the laughers laugh. By the time they understand you'll be dead which simply means they can't whine to you and, with any luck, will be in heaven messing up their room.

-Your relationship with God is far more important than anything else. That makes a great sermon point. But forget about that. It's just a simple fact. When your life begins to boil down to what is important NOTHING will top that. So pay attention early. You won't have to spend so much time "cramming for finals" later on.

-Right after your relationship with God you might want to consider cultivating, watering, fertilizing, feeding, your relationship with your family. Do you realize how precious ... how important they are? Who knew you from day one? Who else will be with you on your last day (hopefully?) And honestly, who else would you rather be with? Family. I have many great friends. I'd like to have many more. I'm in the market. But if my phone rings and ANY member of my family is on the other end ... family by blood or family by marriage ... you betcha I'm answering that call. I would move mountains for my family. I would rearrange cluttered schedules. I would walk across hot coals. I would die for my daughters-in-law and my son-in-law as quickly as I would my own kids. They ARE my own kids. Every Thursday night I drive two hours to spend one hour with two of my three kids and their families. MY families. Why? Because it's worth every minute of it. And not just because they might be choosing my nursing home someday. I will do it because, well, because I love them with a deep and impassioned love.

-You don't really have to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Every 5,000 will be fine unless you drive in really dirty places or you stop every block and let your engine idle. I'm not a mechanic. I've just owned a lot of cars. If I'm wrong about this remember ... never take car advice from a pastor.

-Don't take yourself so stinken seriously. You spend much time wondering what people are thinking of you? Let me give you the true answer. THEY ARE NOT THINKING OF YOU. They are thinking of themselves. So please God first and then please those you love and then please yourself. And if others give you grief for it ... laugh at them. No, not to their face because that would be rude and it might get you punched in the nose. But do laugh at them. Certainly don't pay them any undue attention.

-Everybody has an opinion. You want to make somebody angry? Make a decision. You'll hack someone off every time. Get use to it. It's an irrevocable law of the universe.

-Okay, just one last thing. I could go on all night writing this stuff but you are already bored and my 55 year old fingers are tired. So here's the last one. That person who lays next to you at night? You know. Your wife. Or your husband. They are gold. Always, always, always give them the benefit of the doubt. Always put them before yourself. Always make certain that, before they go to sleep or drive away in a car, they know you LOVE THEM. And then tell them one more time just to make sure. Contrary to popular opinion, they cannot be replaced.

"The Birthday Flag" flys at our house in my honor today. (Thank you, honey!)


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Brother...

Happy Birthday I counted the years I have known you, it counts to something like 36. I can testify that you have never been a problem. I know you are a fine man of God, son, husband, brother, father, and friend. I know no one richer!

I will still laugh at you, although you are older and it is like laughing at myself in the future. Something tells me you have laughed at me although it is like laughing at your past. We are generally funny people with funny problems and funny attempts at solutions (at least some of the time!).

I wish all your lifetime here on earth to be peaceful. Knowing that heaven will have its own rewards.

With Love,

Your brother Jeff.