At any given point in my life, I’ve always felt that if I died that day, then I had lived a good life. Some people will say they had the most fun in their lives in high school or in their twenties or thirties or pick a time. But I cannot choose one over the other because my whole life has been good.
I grew up in a home where there was not any money. Poor but not unhappy. We always had family around even if my father was not. From the time of my earliest recollections, we kids were in church. On Sundays and during school summer vacations we had Vacation Bible School. That may have been not so much fun at the time but it taught us about God and it taught us right from wrong at a very early age. Something I will always be thankful for.
We had a lot of fun growing up. We were all over our neighborhood at all hours. Today you could not let your kids do that. In my teens, I did a lot of things. I had a lot of friends, fell in love more than once, had my heart broken for the first time and hung out with a lot of different friends. I didn't waste a minute of time during any of my life and that was true for my teenaged years. I lived a lot of life during those times.
I found the love of my life during my teens and married her. We went through all of the new experiences together which made them ten times more exciting and better. I got married at twenty-one and we bought our first house when I was 23. I began my first career which I had trained for when I was 21 and I loved doing it and made a lot of money at it. We had our first child, our daughter Jacy when I was 26 and I continued to grow in my chosen field.
We bought our second house when I was about 28. It was a house that was big enough that we could live in it for the rest of our lives and have our children come home to a house that they grew up in. I continued to prosper in my career and we had our second child, our son Nicolas when I was 39.
My wife Debi and I and our children lived a very nice, stable life in a great neighborhood. Ours was the Kool-Aid house where all the kids came after school to hang out. Debi quit work when Jacy was born, so there was always supervision at the home.
In my forties, I continued to grow in my career and toward the end of that decade of my life I hurt myself at work and had to stop doing that kind of work but found my second life’s career working for the Machinists Union as an organizer. Another job I love and have been successful at doing.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the perfect wife, great children who were smart, healthy and virtually no trouble to raise. Very lucky indeed. And though my marriage fell apart around the time I turned fifty, and we sold our home and went our separate ways, I still had my career and family.
With all of my fortune, I have had a better life than probably 95% of the people who have ever lived. My belief in God and the fact that I have been so lucky to have been so happy in life, makes me not afraid to die. If I die before I wake tomorrow, I would have to say that I’ve lived a better life than most anyone could hope for and would not feel cheated if I died before old age. Not at all. In fact, I used to think to myself, “I’m the luckiest guy that I’ve ever known.” It may sound corny but it was the truth. At least I had those good times. I have loved a lot and have been loved a lot and I don’t throw that word around carelessly. Maybe some of my good fortune has been because I always made the best of whatever I had. I have always worked since I was about nine or ten and I’ve always had an “up” attitude about everything.
And I have had six “best” friends in my life and though most are dead, I think most people are lucky to have had one real, true friend in their life. And I’ve had six. I have found that the best thing you can give a true friend is yourself. When you have nothing material to give or even when you do, your heart is the best gift you can give to a friend. That way they always know exactly who their friend is and that their friend will be there for them no matter what.
Yes, I have had a very rich, fulfilling, happy life. One that most people would love to have had. I have felt the deep pain of devastating losses of friends and family to death. But I also know that death is as much a part of life as living and as being born. No one gets out alive from life. So if I die before I wake, I know the Lord my soul will take, I will always be thankful for whatever I’ve had and I’ve had the best of lives. So on that day when they are ready to lower me into the ground, anyone who has known me can walk away not sad but happy that at least I've led a full, happy life.