Reflecting on the past with great hope for the future

By TIM BEELAND,

The year twenty eighteen is upon us. My gosh, did you ever think we would live this long?

Remember when you were 20? How about 18? Oh my gosh, really, did you ever think we would live this long?

I can just about guarantee you my parents probably didn’t think that I would. Folks that know me, know that I was a bit of a wild child. I always claimed that the blood flowing though my veins was extra thick and extra hot. Today that particular ailment is termed hyperactivity, and believe you me, I had myself a good dose of the hyperactivity.

Back in the day, as a pre-teen, I remember thinking 20 was so old. And the 18-year-olds leaning on their cars in the school parking lot next to our house, well I thought they were old too.

I can vividly remember sitting up high up in the sky in our double-decker treehouse looking down on the world and thinking to myself — almost praying I would say — that I never wanted to get too old to be up in that tree. Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t getting too old to climb up there I was hoping/praying for, it was getting to big, as in adult size, to go up there. I know  now that a person can’t get to old to hang out in a treehouse, but we can get too big.

That tree is still out in the backyard of my parents house. I’m pretty sure that today if I climbed up there high in the branches I would find a few nail scars and perhaps a piece of a board or two from the days when life was so simple. When life was so grand.

I’m almost positive there would be some of the thick rusty chain link ladder  my friends, Keith and Korby Gaines and whomever else might have been around on any particlar day of our youth, used to climb up part of the way toward the top of that tree. We would pull the chain up after we settled in so no one else could access our hideaway. An airy moat to keep the enemy out, you might say.

Funny that we thought we needed that. After all we did have the chain link cyclone fence protecting our lair and of course April, the most perfect German Shepherd guard dog one could ever imagine, was always lying in wait at the base of our tree.

Sometimes I think the sky was bluer back then. The wispy clouds, it seems, were whiter,  and lighter, as we laid on our backs in the sun, on the roof of our house in the sky.

There were no burdens, no worries, no woes, no pain, no sorrow — none that we knew of anyway. But it wasn’t a perfect world either.

Keith was a year older than me and Korby was my age — well they still are I suppose — and they lived a stone’s throw from our house and that treehouse. Their father had been killed in a terrible place called Vietnam when Korby and I were in kindergarten.

Their younger brother Kerry, who is the same age as my younger brother Richard, never met his father and their older brother, Ken, never got over his father’s death — none of them really did  — and he died when we were in high school. No, it wasn’t always paradise in the neighborhood, but on those days up in that tree it sure seemed like it was.

There have been times I wished I could return to that simpler life, but if I did I’m certain that I would sorely miss the one I have now and want to come right back.

Today, on the cusp of the new year, I am blessed with a beautiful wife that has put up with my affliction — my blood’s still thick and hot — for over 36 years and she still claims to love me. I have a gorgeous, 25-year-old (in a month anyway) daughter, who is smart, and kind, and has truly made growing old worth, well, worth growing old. Plus, she loves us as much as we love her and does still like spending a little bit of her time with mom and dad.

And, at the age of 57 (in a little less than a month anyway) I consider myself very blessed to still have in my life an 85-year-old (in a little less than a month anyway) father and an 81-year-old (she’s already there) mother, both of whom my little family of three love very much, and still get to spend some of our time with as well. Nearly 100 percent of my friends cannot say the same.

Would I go back up in that treehouse? Oh yeah! Would I stay there and never grow up? No, no, I couldn’t do that. There is just too much here for me.

So, my friends, my wish for us all —  for you and yours and for me and mine in the year 2018 — is that we are able to reflect on the past, but not long for it; appreciate what we have in the present, and be thankful for it; and look to the future with great hope for all that is yet to come.

Happy New Year!