Even back then I couldn’t understand the hype surrounding ‘turning twenty-one.’ It was simply a number that had little meaning to me. I was already doing what I was doing, legal or not. In fact, the only thing I did to recognize that momentous occasion was to let a friend take me to a bar (his favorite) and drink legally for the first time.
Two weeks later I was inducted into the United States Army and from then on age mattered even less.
Thirty came and we were living in Maryland and loving it. Sharon had a great job with Baltimore County Schools and I was managing the Program Distribution Department at the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. I was well into writing my first novel and there were no kids yet.
The mythical forty year mid-life crisis slipped by unnoticed because I was simply too busy with other things. The kids were growing up by the minute. Sharden Productions, Inc. was expanding along with several investment projects plus a full time job in public television. I had little time for anything else.
Fifty years of age came and went and wasn’t even noticed.
Sixty meant I was nearing the end of my working career with no clear substitute on the horizon.
My seventy birthday marked a wonderful celebration when both adult children and their respective families made a surprise visit to us in the desert. It reminded me how lucky I truly was.
Now at the ripe young age of seventy-five I am eleven novels, five plays, four screenplays and too many treatments to count, into my new writing career. I’ve made it this far with no regrets and a deep appreciation for a life well-lived. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my relationship with Sharon and our immediate family, my health and friends; past and present. This new writing phase is just icing on the cake; seventy-five years in the making.
Reflecting back on the details of one’s life often reveals a much larger mirror picture. Old black and white photographs, cryptic notes, official documents, and period relics hold captive a bank vault of stored memories.
I have finally come to appreciate all that my mother did for me, intentionally or otherwise. I am now able to recognize the tremendous sacrifices she made for my sister and me. Sadly, I was never able to see that clearly when I was growing up or in her later years. My biggest regret is that I was never close to her. But then again it’s hard to be close to someone who was never able to show even a hint of love and affection toward her children.
Military service, like living in Europe, afforded me life lessons no textbook could ever replicate. I’ve encountered many people who have taught me about life in so many different ways. Some straight to the heart, other lingering beneath the surface, still others in looks and glances and gestures made. Some I understood, others were confusing but all were learning experiences.
Women in particular made the strongest impact on my life. I’ve often wondered if the dysfunction I experienced at home caused me confusion and distraction on the dating scene. It probably did. The names I remember, many of the details not so much. I’m sure it was a combination of my immaturity, insecurity and over-active hormones that fractured many a friendship. But wonderful teachers they all were.
So, here’s an appreciative tip of my hat to Diane, Joyce, Sheila, Marti, Susan and all the others whose faces and memories remain cloaked in that uncertainty and fog of pending senility. Life lessons each and every one of them and most not realized until I was much further down the road. And, of course, a heart-felt salute to the greatest teacher of them all with whom I’ve lived a full life for more than forty-six years.
It’s been one heck of a ride thus far. Yet there are still so many plays, novels, screenplays, songs, comic strips and who knows what else left to create.
I just hope there’s enough time.