Sometimes I have to face the truth; I am a shit. I am repeatedly forced to confront that reality, because every now-and-then it comes back and hits me over the head. Like today... the news in my email that I just lost a cousin who was born only four days before I was. We played together when we were kids. We were close into our teens, then drifted apart.
I can't remember exactly when the last time I saw him was. It was at a wedding, but I can't remember whose. If I guessed it was over thirty years ago, I probably wouldn't be far off. Let's just say it was half-a-lifetime ago. In this case, it was probably as much his fault as mine. But, I still blame myself. I am lazy about maintaining relationships.
We Hervey's are an odd bunch. We can go for years without talking. Our history is punctuated with family spats. Maybe we're overly sensitive; maybe we're insecure. I recently reconnected with an uncle with whom I'd been close as a kid. Again, it must have been more than thirty years. Ironically, we had been talking about my cousin - what a good kid he was.
But my laxness in maintaining relationships goes beyond family. I keep reading the obituaries of college friends I haven't talked to in years. In one case I was the godfather of one of my friend's children. Another half-a-lifetime...
The feeling, of course, is regret. It's too late to reconnect. It's all water under the bridge, and now, what was once a trickle has become a river. That's life. That's my life. Perhaps it's time for a late New Year's resolution. I could make a list of rules for living out the rest of my life, but I know I'd only break them. As a trial lawyer there were rules like "never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer." As a writer there were rules like "show, don't tell." Any good lawyer or writer would tell you that these rules are there so that if you are going to break one, you should have a good reason. Believe me, I can always come up with something. But here it is anyway:
Uncle Gunch's rules for living, age 65 and above:
- Communicate with at least one member of your extended family every week.
- Stay in touch with old friends by some other means than Facebook.
- If you are traveling within 20-30 miles of an old friend or relative, stop and visit.
- If you are mad at someone, don't let it go on for too long. Find a reason to break the ice.
- Remember that you are not always right.
- Tell your immediate family members that you love them, every day.
- Love your dog, but not to the exclusion of others.
- Take your vitamins.
- Maintain a low dose aspirin regimen.
- Avoid doctors and hospitals.
- Avoid incurring monthly expenses for crap you don't need.
- Don't smoke.
- Don't use a cell phone while driving.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- Be careful where you step. If you fall down, it's all over. (See #10.)
- Get someone younger to do your heavy lifting.
- Exercise within reasonable limits.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- Eat balanced meals in small portions.
- Limit your intake of salt and sugar, but not completely, because these are two things that truly enhance life.
- Have a martini every night before dinner.
- Don't drink before 5 p.m.
- Avoid stress. (This might require you to ignore 1-5 and possibly 22.)