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I’m 60 – it’s a gift

by jughandle

This is being published at 12:01 August 21, 2012.  If I’m still alive, I made it!

Some would say “so what” lots of people turn 60 and I would agree since most of my high school friends are 60 this year.  I almost waved this milestone off with a shrug but I need to vent a little and say thanks to a lot of people and God.

No fewer than 5 times in the last 60 years has my life looked like it was finished.  At 24 my doctor gave me only 5% chance of seeing 30. Once I was caught in an avalanche high in the rock mountains, with the only person who could save me sliding down next to me.  Another notable time, I fell asleep while driving home late at night down Lake Forest.  My car left the road on one of the only places that there were no trees.  I jerked the wheel to the left and stomped on the brake but got the gas instead.  I recovered in time to slide to a stop sideways 5 feet from the Arlington Cemetery gate.  Thank you God.

I have been able to meet statesmen and important people and have had great partners in business and in marriage.  I have been blessed to be mentored by amazing coaches who’ve pushed me beyond what I thought was possible, giving of their time and life to improve mine, unselfishly.  I’ve had a family who has given their love and help to me and would do anything for me only to have me pray that I’ll never be more of a burden to them than I am right now.

I’ve worked with some of the smartest most talented people in the world and I know what it is like to have my legs propel me into the air and fly, if only for a brief moment. I’ve loved and been loved deeply.  I’ve been hurt and seen what I thought was the bottom, only to be surprised and to find a greater happiness than before.

I have had a great life, but… there it is, the “but”.  I only “but”, because deep down inside I wonder why I was saved to reach the ripe old age of 60, while others I’ve known to be great people were not.  I need to know.  I need to make a difference.  Is it unfinished work? I’ve always had a feeling that I was supposed to do something lasting.  It has been important to me to give back, to thank those who have had faith in me, who helped me learn and survive.  I want to show the world I’m worthy, a chosen one not a waste of time and talent.  Not a story of wasted “potential”.

Ah, but there he is, the little man over in the corner whispering to come closer.  He looks like my father who taught me to respect others and to study life and religion so that I  could make up my own mind what to do with my life, who believed that when he died he would go to the great void.  A man who hated his job, but gave up his love of music to raise a family and to be able to give them what they needed in life.  Lesson learned, don’t work for a large corporation.  No, wait.  It now looks like my mother who at 83 believes we are already in hell, or hell’s waiting room, purgatory.  That could explain a lot.  Turns out the man in the corner is me.  As I get closer, his whispers turn into shouts. “Hey, dumb-ass, ever think that you aren’t so damn special, maybe God doesn’t work that way, hell, maybe there isn’t a God and this all is just a huge cosmic joke on you.”


There are too many beautiful unexplained things to have life be just a random event, right?  My immediate problem is that I never thought I’d make it to 60.  I’m a self employed cabinet maker with two bad hips, my only kidney full of stones, a right hand that shakes so much I can’t write my own name and no balls, with no health insurance or retirement plan other than to not make it to 60.  All of that in a society that worships the instant kitchen cabinet from Ikea and has no desire for craftsmanship or durability and equates someone’s ability to make a beautiful piece of furniture to the wage of a McDonald’s worker at the second window.  Great planning fool.

In other words, I’ve got no plan for tomorrow, or the next day for that matter.  Guess I’d better get busy.  Thanks for letting me vent – jughandle



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Deborah Bennett August 21, 2012 - 8:19 am

This is the most beautiful letter I have ever read ! I am feeling that you could write a beautiful book and have people waiting for more to read.I too still believe that craftmanship and honesty are the two sacred things left in the world.Happy Birthday Friend.

jughandle August 21, 2012 - 9:33 am

Wow, thank Deborah, that is one of the nicest things I could ever hope to hear. Thanks for your sweet thoughts and for following my rants. – jerry

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