Yesterday I read this interview feature quoting Clint Eastwood’s reasonable response to the criticism he’s received from Spike Lee. Look at the guy’s face in the photo. He’s gotten old.

When I was a kid, I mean in elementary school, I remember we, the boys, used to love talking about war movies we’d seen on TV. That was back when it was a big deal to see a fairly recent motion picture televised. Like ABC’s Movie of The Week. One of our school yard favorites was that Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland movie about a bunch of WWII soldiers in Europe stealing SS gold with the collusion of the Panzer commander guarding the treasure.

I’m more than halfway to old, now. Last night, I woke up thinking about Clint Eastwood: Old Man, and then thought about the passage of time, or my journey through time, and how I’ll end up old someday pretty soon. Contrasted that with infant son sleeping in his bassinet. Will he remember me as the active and healthy man in early middle age I am, now, or as whatever it is I’ll be when I die?

Mom, younger brother, me (on the camel), and Dad wearing Burmuda shorts and I Spy shades

My father died at the age of 58 after having lived more than a hundred normal human years. I remember him as the angry tyrant I loved carrying us through Europe wearing Bermuda shorts and Robert Culp I Spy sunglasses – shades, he always called them. I remember spending Saturdays going to garage sales with him. I remember his road rage – that’s where I learned about creative name-calling. I remember his funny voices and the brilliant way he was able to do impressions of popular and classic actors. Probably the actors he grew up watching at the cinema. I remember Dad’s sailboat, and our nocturnal scavenging sessions at local boatyards picking up a sail here, an outboard motor there. I remember more than I’ll write here. I remember Dad throughout my life up to the time he died.

His birthday was in early June. I can’t even remember the date. I don’t remember the year or the date he died, either. Strange lack of recollection. Dad was one of about three people I always knew loved me. He was the one who disappointed me most frequently. Those disappointments were agonizing.

2 thoughts on “Mortality

  1. Chris,
    I never remember dates but if you remember the person, dates I think are not important. The film, “Field of Dreams” (about one’s lost father) regularly brings tears streaming down my face and I guess I’m not alone. As to getting old: I’m convinced physical activity is the important key – most people struggling to get up from chairs, etc, are like that because of years of doing very little. Also, a lot of people are frightened of trying something new – or afraid of what the neighbours might say – it’s easier to fit the stereotypical older person and just potter around. This is a subject that I could go on at length about. If you don’t exercise – you rust up – the same as if you eat too much, you get fat. A study done a few years ago found that people with a negative view of age died seven and a half years earlier than those who thought positively about it (I think this was an American study). Food for thought. And your father sounds an interesting guy; too bad he died young.
    P.S. To quote Brigitte Bardot (as one does!) “It is better to be old, than dead”. Of course, with your religious views this might be a view at odds with your beliefs…

  2. I’d say most of my co-religionists would concur with Ms. Bardot’s remarks (doesn’t she get into legal trouble for telling the truth as she sees it?) Although we’re spiritual beings, most of us aren’t real “spiritual” except in moments of reflect or extreme distress. We’re pretty concerned with matters of day to day living, hoping for some material world success, a little joy, that things will work out in a way that comforts us.

    Paul wrote, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain,” at a time when our brothers and sisters were, in large measure, Palestinian Jewish subjects of Rome or Roman slaves of many ethnicities, and he was, himself, living chained to Roman guard in his own rented quarters, iirc. Toward the end of his life the apostle wrote something along the lines of, “I have finished the course, I have fought the good fight…”

    Much of my life has felt like a painful mistake, and things for me have worked out differently than they have for the average American of my race, class, and age. As a younger man I longed for the end, to be done with this life. As an older man, I’ve been happier, and my life has been getting better, every year. Still a critic of the world I inhabit, however.

    I’m glad you brought up that age study – really is food for thought. True enough that many of my contemporaries are already sporting the effects of life-style choices that amount to self-crippling – mostly in re: diet and exercise.

    Dad was an interesting guy. I’ll have to write more about him sometime.

    Yesterday, at Cafe-Church, in addition to a couple of Boyfriend Jesus songs which I could not bring myself to sing, we wrapped up with Rock of Ages. As we sang this last verse I thought about this post and comments:

    While I draw this fleeting breath,
    When my eyes shall close in death,
    When I rise to worlds unknown,
    and behold thee (that is, God) on thy throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in thee

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