Or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Retirement
The path of life is often very crooked, no matter how straight we think we can make it. We are in control of very few influences, with the rest well beyond our reach. Here I am, preparing to conclude the first half of my life and redeploy for the second, and a funny thing happened on my way to retirement.
I decided to play golf July 9 here in Idaho Falls, even as I was writing about the fact that I wasn’t going to play golf five times per week in the second half of life. I played as a single, and, having decided some exercise would do me some good, walked and carried my clubs on a calm, warm morning.
I was enjoying some time alone and playing a decent round given my relatively high handicap. Time alone for me is synonymous with time to think, and I was doing a lot of thinking about reDeploying. As I approached the 7th green I began to feel some discomfort in my chest. I suddenly had a flash-back to two weeks prior when I was in the mountains on the roof of my cabin sweeping off the winter drop of pine needles. Same discomfort, so same response! I figured all I needed to do was breath, relax my chest, and I’d be fine. I teed off on the 8th hole, a par three, and landed on the green—nothing short of a miracle! Then the discomfort turned into dull pain. It seemed strange, but I pressed on to the green. After all, I don’t get many birdie putt opportunities. Another miracle—I sunk the putt! And then the pain in my chest sharpened and intensified.
I squatted in the shade of a nice spruce tree. As I breathed…the pain worsened. Long story short, I was having heart attack and, after thinking of ways in which I should man-up, decided to leave the golf course and call the paramedics. I arrived at emergency in time to be rushed to the cath lab where the cardiologist implanted two stents in a coronary artery, and I was as good as new. Sort of…
Later that evening, while still in the hospital, my dear wife, Lisa, was filtering communications as family and close friends wanted to know how I was doing. My adult children started checking in on me, and I even snuck in a few text messages in an effort to reassure everyone that I was fine.
I went home the next day and began the recovery process. Physically, I was going to be OK. However, emotionally and spiritually, change was underway. While I was focusing on getting back to normal, physically, whatever that is, it dawned on me that many people with whom I am close had just experienced a warning signal of sorts. Gordon/Pops/Papa might have died. As a matter of fact, he will die someday (as will all of us).
Our children considered dropping whatever they were doing to fly/drive (a very long way) to be with me. Our daughter, Jessica, became the “sibling representative” and flew up while Nick and Kirk stayed in contact with her.
Jessica and I had a very precious time together—a time of renewal. My sister, Janet, was nearby and also came to check in on me. She has a very special faith.
I tend to be a little, maybe very stubborn. It is “ridicilous”, as my granddaughter, Payton, says, to have had to endure a life-threatening emergency to be capable of fully absorbing just how much my family and close friends love me. As I let down the walls that I had built up around me over so many years, to receive that which has been so difficult for me to receive all of my life, I became overwhelmed with joy. Joy is a strange feeling for me! Suddenly, in a very specific way, I had been given a “jolt” of awareness that had been suppressed for nearly 60 years. (It’s a “guy thing”.)
I am grateful to Lisa for being Lisa, and to my children for their raw and vulnerable love and support, and for the care and concern of the rest of my family and close friends. July 9 was a life-changing experience. My long desire for healing and closeness in my family was suddenly occurring at an accelerated pace. Clearly God had a message for me. Redeploying—sharing my giftedness—is important to Him. Doing so humbly with the precious gift of more life to live will bring me closer to His will for my second half journey. I was affirmed in love, blessed with a new perspective, and freed to let go of the past and really, really follow Him.
I started contemplating this spiritual check, and began to write about my favorite passage from the Bible, Romans 5:1-5, on Thursday, July 18. I read this passage at my brother, Bill’s memorial service. It fills me with hope! And just to make sure I “got it,” God had pre-arranged the sermon subject on Sunday, July 21, just three days later. The pastor preached hope—from Romans 5:1-5!
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
May you also find hope!