My cousin, Leon, died last week of a sudden heart attack. The remaining cousins, who rarely see one another, gathered for his funeral. We were a tiny contingent among a huge group of friends who attended the wake and funeral. Leon was a good man. He was loved by his family and admired by many. The shock of his untimely death hit hard.
As cousins, we’ve become accustomed to gathering for the funerals of elderly parents. There’s longevity in our family. Sadly, that longevity invariably led to dementia and lingering deaths in nursing homes. My parents and aunts and uncles were in their late eighties and early nineties when we stood by their grave sides. In spite of the grief, there was a feeling of relief that their ordeals had ended.
Leon’s death was different. He was one of us. He was supposed to be sitting with us attending a funeral; not being the reason for it. And then as I sat looking around the church and thinking that so many people looked so old, the realization hit home. As active as we might be, and as vital as we might feel, we are the older generation now. The torch has been passed.
And that’s okay. As a group, our generation appears to be grabbing that torch and running with it. From what I can tell, here on the Cape all service organizations and non-profits are run on senior volunteer power. My guess is that the same situation exists in other places as well. We might be retired from careers, but hardly from life.
We don’t get to pick when the finish line is crossed. But we can run the race with fair play and enthusiasm. Leon ran his race very well. His finish line was crowded with the people he had touched in life. He will be missed.