By Richard Mabey Jr.
This past September, I turned 61. It has its benefits. I can now get the senior discount at the buffet. The thing is that I really don’t like buffets, as I have a tendency to overeat when I go to buffets. So, in reality, that benefit isn’t that great.
Quite a few of my Facebook friends are folks that I went to school with, so they are in the same boat of facing 61. It’s a tough time. It’s the dawn of being considered “old” by society. In some ways, that’s a tough pill to swallow. I can’t help but wonder if the folks that I grew up with and went to high school at the old “red and black” are walking similar trails in the journey of facing 61.
For the past two days, I’ve been going through old cards and letters. I’ve decided that the time has come to throw them away. Some of them go back to when I was in grade school. You know, cards from relatives for birthdays, graduations, and other sundry special events. I struggled through a one-year bout with rheumatic fever when I was 12 years old, and I kept all the get well cards that friends and relatives sent me. So, I have a significant collection of old get well cards.
Mostly, I’ve kept my collection of old cards and letters in shoe boxes. Some of the letters were written to me from people that I have never met. After having written hundreds of feature articles and columns that appeared in several newspapers in northern New Jersey and central Pennsylvania, I am grateful to having had received several complimentary letters about my published writings. So, therein lies yet another category of my collection of cards and letters.
This is very personal. There is yet another category in which my collection of cards and letters falls into. And, that is, cards and letters that I had received from old girlfriends. In reading them, these past two days, a myriad of emotions and memories flowed through the fiber of my marrow. Some of the letters brought a sense of joy, some brought a sense of sadness, and still some of these letters brought to mind the question, “what went wrong?”
I made a tough decision today. Probably, one of the toughest decisions that I have made in quite a while. I decided the time had come to bid a proper farewell to my collection of cards and letters. Part of being 61 is that the echo of the ticking clock suddenly becomes a lot louder. Essentially, the countdown has begun. And, sadly, the time has come to begin the preparation for departure.
I don’t mean to sound so gloom and doom. It’s just that I really don’t want to transition to the next life and leave behind all these shoe boxes, filled with cards and letters, for someone else to have to go through. Thus, begins Phase I of Facing 61.
So, there’s this big black plastic bag in my garage right now, filled with my old cards and letters. It will go out to the end of my driveway tomorrow night. Trash pick up is Monday morning. I know this sounds cold and cruel, but I ripped up all my cards and letters before tossing them into the big black plastic bag. It was all part of the psychological process of saying goodbye to them.
For what it’s worth, the process was not without flowing tears.
Peace and harmony,