Geezer Millard Smedley Wonders and Hopes
Millard Smedley, one of the Bay’s more colorful and lovable geezers, held court the other day at the Docks giving any willing listener the benefit of his eight decades of accumulated wisdom as recorded here.
“One of the benefits of geezerhood (defined as reaching age 80) is that a geezer becomes quite aware that his time on earth is not too far from the end. By putting a pencil to the ages of his parents and his siblings when they “passed,” the geezer can come up with a reasonable idea on how much longer he has before he, too, “passes.” For most geezers, the remaining time figures to be about three up to ten years before the Great Referee blows His whistle signaling “Game Over!” or when the Great Baker declares, “You are toast!”
As a geezer I now know that I do not have all the time in the world, not like the feeling I had when I was in my 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s. In my 70s, however, I began to sense that perhaps I wasn’t going to live forever and that I needed to make some plans accordingly. I was now spending more time in the doctor’s office than on the golf course; I found myself checking my bank account and credit card balances daily rather than weekly or monthly as in the past. Nevertheless, the idea of “the end” was still on my back burner.
When the first digit of my age clicked to “8,” it was as if a switch was immediately turned on signaling that I wasn’t going to be around to see how some things turn out. Many of my unanswered questions or works-in-progress situations dealt with my offsprings and their children. My children were now in their 50s and 60s with their problems and paths fairly well fixed – or irretrievably unfixable in some cases.They had moved past their turbulent teen years, their years of meandering through college and early career paths, and on to marriage and kids. Now today, they are knee-deep in the all too uncommon pitfalls of divorce, re-marriage, cancers, drug or alcohol abuse, their own trying and troubled childen, and money woes. I long ago accepted the fixed realities of my childen’s circumstances and while I continue to be concerned, I am resigned to the concept that this die is cast.
Such resolution is not so settled, however, as with my grandchildren who range in age from 14 to 25. Each one of these is on a path either pointing to normalcy and good citizenship or to some other less than happy outcome. Their jury is still out. Knowing of my limited time, I understand that I will not be around to see how these kids turn out. It is this uncertainty that brings forth the “Twins” – Wonder and Hope, that occupy much of my thinking. For instance, I wonder if my twenty year old grandson will recover from his brain-addling seven year addiction to marajuana.
The sad state of this grandson illustrates how treacherous life can be. This fellow was a “nice” boy, good in school, interested in sports, giving his parents no major problems. But somewhere around the age of twelve, it all started to fall apart as he began to lose interest in school and sports. His parents were clueless (so they say), unaware that he was into “pot.”They did everything they could to redirect him by sending him to different schools. Nothing worked. When finally his parents caught on to the real problem, it was too late to intercept the damage to this young man’s brain caused by his heavy use of marajuana. After several episodes of reality breakdowns requiring hospitalizations, this grandson currently appears to be off the “weed” and seemingly on a path to recovery and wholesomeness. I certainly hope so.”
As geezer Smedley continued his discourse he passed on that he learned that the road of life was not simply a one-way street, but one that had many turnoffs and even U turns. He confessed that he himself was also a source of much worry and grief to his parents, and not just in his teen years or the early 20s, but all the way into his 40s. Overtaken by alcoholism, he had caused great hurt to his own family and his parents and was very near leaving a permanent legacy of heartbreak, when he experienced a miraculous U turn in his life as God graciously delivered him from his addiction. Now sober and with a moral compass from God to follow, Smedley said that he was able to move from being a worry and shame to becoming a joy and comfort to his parents, family and friends.
Smedley ended his talk saying that because he had experienced such a turnaround in his life, he has also a great hope that this grandson, somehow and some day, will also have a life-saving U turn in his life with God’s help and become a blessing to his parents, family, and friends.