Marvin Repinski: On this side of the cemetery

Published 5:48 pm Friday, July 15, 2022

“We finish our years like a sigh.” (The Bible, Psalm 90:9)

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Realism is in my thoughts today.

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It’s not that I feel the slowdown of death, but I realize that we do face the unknown. And while knowing how our lives will be concluded in this earthly journey, we, to the abilities of our minds and bodies, wish to create a life that matters.

Some of the readers of this essay I assume, keep a diary or certainly calendars with dates, notes, and things we have done over the years. I prize dozens of yearly books like calendars. Am I too stubborn to recycle? No! I go back to various years and relive what I did from day to day.

The following quotation from the August 2021 issue of “Reminisce” magazine is written by Glenn D. Bridges, a devoted diarist. “For my eighth birthday, my parents gave me a five-year diary. Little did I know how much it would mean to me. My very first entry was short and simple: Feb. 25, 1969: “Today is my Birthday. I got a five-year diary + a pen + tape-recorder. We had cake and ice cream.”

If you were born, like me in the 1930s, you are going through the process of aging. What may be lacking, compared to the time in your 30s, is the ability to whirl like a top on the dance floor. Now is different. I think it was my sister-in-law, Belita Schindler, who recently spoke of tackling eight, not 10 things in a given week!

The realism of which I write, is reflecting that may be for most of us, a necessity; we do live in the face of the inevitable. You may say, Marvin, stop. You are too negative. We want to sing ‘Happy Days are Here Again.’” Really? I do write to open the skies, to point out a few events, dear memories, and relationships that will bring at least a bit of kind feelings, some happiness while growing older.

We are on the side of life that is LIFE! Encouragement from many sources is to be welcomed. I’m rehearsing in my mind, the words from a hymn that I recall from the time I was a youngster. As I’ve aged, I sense their meaning:

“Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou has for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp, and set me free.”

We are at present, in our more mature years! We hope to have periods of graceful satisfaction while we live, even with friends who may have health issues or a relative in a memory care housing situation. Can there not be games, music, the visitors who love us and the scrapbook or photo albums to fondle with appreciation? Yes, there are physicians and nursing staff. The nursing staff and aids who say: “It’s more than a job; it’s people with whom I surround my heart!”

My wish is with the older readers of my words  — I’m part of that company. I desire to push death as far into the future as is possible. I do believe in some form of “life everlasting” but my choice is yet, earthly survival.

Let us take our days as a possibility that says, “not bitter, but better!” Reading the negative is unproductive: Celia in T.S. Eliot’s play, the “Cocktail Party,” has characters saying, “No…it isn’t that I want to be alone. But that everyone’s alone so it seems to me. They make noises, and think they are talking to each other; they make faces, and think they understand each other.”

Can we say, “lack of living with a little zest is not for me?” We can open ourselves to an expansion to what sings, the beauty we recognize in nature, laughter in the company at church or a club, what jumps out  — something interesting in a magazine or book.

We are in a time of life when there may be more leisure than in former years. Create an attraction to a great story in a TV movie. I am aware that many of my older friends enjoy the talk shows on TV. We best not dismiss the music programs in the area schools, while we may make an effort to meet at the local senior center that now serves a noon meal. A game of Bingo at the V.F.W. is the call to some people! The time is now to say, “I can break out of what I thought were my limits.” We have the power of choice!

A woman who writes beautiful and life-affirming books is Kathleen Norris. One of her suggestions is, “before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays are quite impossible to foresee ahead. You can only see one thing clearly and that is your goal.” Fortunately, I have several items as goals and I work at greater clarity.

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God, be upon us, and establish the work of our hands Yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)