I am an old man.
There are men and women older than I am, but let's face it 86 is not young by any measure.
One of my best friends once said – 'you will dance on my grave.' We were just middle age, which then was around 40. My grand children are approaching that number now.
Presently people live a few years longer but half of 90 is still only 45, with the majority not making the 90's.
When I was an early teenager we came together after the Sunday evening service at seven and the rest of the night up to about ten, high out eleven o'clock we were what is called now hanging around. Being in a group at that age was safer than pairing off for only one reason, and we stayed away from sex like it was a contagious sickness, only because of the chances of a girl becoming pregnant. Did we receive any sex education from home or school? Never, perhaps a - 'Be careful now, you hear'
The names of the girls were – Tsjitske, Akke, Aukje and Ellie; the boys Wopke 2X, Jurrit, and Leffert. The first letters of those names spelled the name of our club – TELJAWWA, which sounds a bit like a Jewish city, and one of the girls, Ellie, was indeed Jewish. She came into our life during the war, when the Nazi's did their utmost to kill the entire Jewish race in several concentration camps. Everyone in our village knew about her and her whereabouts but no one ever squealed on her. She was exceptional beautiful and every boy was crazy about her.
What I really wanted to tell you that several stories have done the rounds in our family and beyond, that with practically every one of my birthdays I had prophesied that I would not live to that particular age. Only one of these stories is true, and here it comes -
When I was nine years old, I had made a sling with a rock tied into onto the end of a piece of rope, which I would swing around and then let fly. This act was usually combined with a game of who could throw the farthest. This time I was by myself standing on the road in front of the old church in Hijum where I lived then. As I swung the rock around I told myself that if it would not fly over the trees around the church, I would die before I was eighteen.
I swung the rock around an around as fast I could and then at the right moment – let go – and missed by just a little. I must have told somebody in deepest secrecy, and that somebody obviously leaked my secret just as miserable as now politicians sometimes do.
So, that is the true story and when the day of my eighteenth birthday arrived there was one who remembered it. I got a postcard from Ellie, with nothing else written on it as wishing me a happy birthday and two big pencil marks under the letters 18.
My birthday is coming up soon, and I suspect to hear some chiding of one, or more, of my children about hearing ad nausea about me telling them that I would never become 66, as I am going to be on April 30, 2017!
I must confide that I took some precautions, I quit driving, drink two liters of milk a week, I laugh a lot and smile even more at pretty women, walk with a walker, eat well and let Margaret, my housekeeper, do the chores of cleaning, washing, ironing, every week clean bedding, ironing, and vacuuming. I refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages, and excersize three times a week.
So, that is it about me and the stories about me, and as for my friend, who figured that he would not live beyond 60, he became 69, and as for dancing on his grave, would I be that crazy to dance on anybody's grave? I can hardly get my one foot in front of the other, as it is.
Have a great spring.