Eating The Bear
Ironically in a rural funeral home a couple of educators, one retired and the other simply tired, after visitation but before the service, were discussing with me on the back row about how our mortal age and physical age didn’t jive. I learned that each of us had this age in our minds, for me it was 30, for the others it was 35 and 49. Maybe we just can’t accept reality. Maybe it’s a defensive mechanism to help us get out of bed putting one foot in front of the other.
As my friend’s mom was being praised for an active life of ninety plus years, I saw a woman full of energy and action for most of her years. Heck, she even helped manage a sawmill. Having worked at a sawmill in my early coaching and teaching years, I gave her high praise for toughness.
Maybe it’s God’s way or simply our mind trying to find a way to help us stay positive and energetic. You and I know the mind is a powerful thing. We’ve all heard stories of old Indians going off to die gracefully by themselves. One time on Gunsmoke Festus got his tutu in a crack when he tried to interfere with what was a natural process for the elderly Native American. We’ve all seen it. No respecter of age, we’ve watched people just give up and die. How many times have we seen an old person die and watched the spouse die soon after from loneliness and heartache.
My friend Finis at the feed mill had it. My old neighbor, customer, and buddy Vonda had it. Bob Hope and Red Skelton had it. Down at the feed mill Finis would be walking around behind us guys goosing us while he waited for his next load of feed. Maybe it’s a guy thing, maybe it was just to break up the humdrum. I like to call it being young at heart, young in spirit. For a time in high school I had my own radio show, thanks to Bill Bradford radio station owner. I think he had it. Ever noticed how many of these guys and gals, like my friend Charlotte Henderson, have had this youthful, positive, life-loving attitude, many after some tragic loss or other circumstance.
I always say enthusiasm is contagious. We choose how we react to hardship and pain. The world is watching us. A walking, talking Bible may be the only one someone will see. People are searching for something to give them hope and a reason to live. I saw babies die in an orphanage overseas for lack of touch and a reason to live. If it helps us to make another day imagining we’re younger than we are, so be it. This is one thing the government can’t control. How we react to life is up to us. Do we eat the bear or does he eat us. I say get out the fork and knife. My grand Jack and I have been crawling around the floor hunting bear. We skinned it and cooked it. Well done for me. Now if I can just find something to hold on to get up and out of the floor.
By Dr. Juan Harrison