By Jim “Pappy” Moore
This past weekend I attended the festivities and fun of my high school graduating class. This was our 55th year reunion. We graduated 252 in spring of 1967. About half the class was boys and about half girls. Right at one-third of our boys, including me, served in the United States Military during the Vietnam War. Every branch of service was represented. Some served in Vietnam. Others served in the greater Southeast Asia theater. There is a camaraderie among those of us who served.
We were fortunate that none of the boys in our class died in Vietnam, but some had serious wounds or injuries which affected them their entire life.
As of our 50th reunion, we had lost 44 of our 252 class members to death. Two of those occurred within months of our graduating, an event which shocked us all. Two boys everyone loved died of asphyxiation due to poor ventilation and a gas heater in a motel. From that moment until late 2017, we lost an additional 42 to death. Over all we averaged less than one lost to death per year.
This year – 5 years later – we added to that list of the Departed another 21 individuals. That means about every 3 months the past five years we lost another classmate to death. We are now all about 73 years old. We will have our 60th reunion when we will all be about 78 years old.
Marching toward death is a fact of life. “It is appointed unto man once to die.” We know this Bible verse. We understand it. We know that just as we came into this world we will pass on when our time comes. How do we frame this journey?
I am an optimist. I look for joy, for laughter, for all the good things that make life worth living. Children, siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, grandnieces, grandnephews and friends all make this ride on Planet Earth a good one. If you look for joy, you will find it. If you look for misery, however, you will find that, too. Much is in the perspective we take as we live our lives.
I see the heartbreak of those who have lost their lifelong partner, their beloved husband or treasured wife. It is truly sad to see their anguish and know there is little you can do. Some of my classmates fall into that group. But they still engage, still socialize, still soldier on for the benefit of their adult children and their grandchildren. I admire them so much.
Star Trek gave us the saying “Live Long and Prosper.” That’s a good thought to live by, a good point of view to wish upon our friends and relatives.
My dear Uncle Fred was not quite 15 when I was born. He was like an older brother when I was very young. He lived with us. He and his wife are now 88, and they remain dear to me. Just thinking about some of the things he has said and done make me chuckle. He is the last remaining child of my Moore grandparents. Two of their children died during The Depression. Their other four children have passed away after many years, except my father, who died at age 45. Uncle Fred is the sole survivor.
Life goes on. We must go on until it is our time. We can choose joy. Or we can choose sadness. I choose joy. I choose laughter. I choose watching kids play. When I pass on, remember me for my smile, my laughter, and my joy in all good things.
Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.