Bonus years

Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

When I was little, I wasn’t sure how long I would live. I was a healthy boy, so I’m not sure why I always wondered about my longetivity. Of course, being a Catholic, I was always reminded not to commit any mortal sins because if I died suddenly and unexpectedly I would immediately go to hell.

And now that I think about it, I could die at any moment. I could some day walk out onto Halsted Street and get hit by a bus. I only say this because I was once almost hit by a bus on Halsted Street just the other day. I was thinking about many things other than paying attention to crossing the street. I’m still not sure why I didn’t see the bus.

When my uncle Joseph “Pepe” Rodriguez died in Viet Nam, I was sure that I would never live to see twenty-one. I was sure I, too, would be drafted and die in Viet Nam. So I always considered all the years beyond twenty-one bonus years.

My mother died when she was fifty-one, and now that I’m fifty-one, eight months old, I have lived longer than her. I have always been an optimist and I realize I’m lucky to have lived to be this old. I actually like having gray hair, particularly because I have a full head of hair. I can still run six miles everyday, when I have time. I’m not rich, but I’m not starving either. Since I didn’t get drafted to go to Viet Nam, I’ve had all these bonus years that I haven’t always used very wisely. However, I realize that I’m lucky to be alive! The way I see it now, all the years that I live beyond fifty-one will be bonus “bonus years.”

There was a time when I wanted to live to be a hundred, mainly because 100 is a nice big round number. Now, I’d rather continue living the happy life that I now have without thinking about how much time I have left. I am ever the optimist!