Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aging, or getting old Ungracefully.

Aging, it sucks doesn’t it?  I mean really, it absolutely sucks to be 40.  Man I freaking hate it.  I hated the build up to it.  I hated it the day it happened.  I hate it now.  My mind says I’m about 28 or so.  My body, well that’s another story.  I wonder if I hadn’t had all this physical trauma if I’d feel this way?  From what I’ve seen and heard from my friends over 40 I’d have to say “no” to that question.  Most of them hate it as well.  One friend will be 50 soon and he physically gets angry when he talks about it.  Gee, what greatness to look forward to eh?

I think it bothers me most that people on the street don’t think I’m “younger than I look.”  I think I look my age and that sucks.  People used to say that I looked young for my age, not so much these days.  I’ve never considered myself very good looking, but I never thought I looked “old”.   Yeah, vanity I know. I think the pain, the drugs, the job, and the sleeplessness have all put some miles on my face. Insert deep sigh.  It bothers me that I’ve lost some of my hair.  It bothers me that I have a gray hair in my beard.  Every time I let it grow out I pull that gray hair out.  It’s just a matter of time now.  Yeah, I know I’m lucky that I haven’t gone gray yet and all that shit.  Yeah yeah yeah.  This is me bitching, we’re not talking about you (yet), bear with me.

I didn’t mind when kids started calling me “Mr. Lloyd.”  I thought that was OK, I felt like that was something I earned around 30.  The 30s were good.  I did a lot in that decade of my existence.  I’m not going to go into all that but I will say that I accomplished many things back then.  I was still able to do all the things that I wanted.  The decade of the 40s won’t be like that.  I can’t imagine skiing, racket ball, playing 36 holes of golf in one day, not even running now.  All that’s gone, and (you guessed it) it sucks.  But this blog isn’t really about that, it’s about aging itself.  Perhaps I am leaning to the down side of things because of the screws in my spine and the pain they have brought into my life.  Maybe I’m just a little farther along the path than others of my age.  Maybe I’m getting a preview of what true “old age” is going to be like and it scares me, or simply pisses me off.  I don’t know, but every time I think about my age I end up in sadness.

It’s a fact that I feel like the “middle” is the end.  I think about dying a lot.  I’m not scared of it.  I hope its a long time away though.  I feel like at this age I’ve finally realized that I will die sometime.  I want to live to be about 75 or so.  That would be cool.  I just have this feeling of wonderment about it all.  I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.  I have my own personal beliefs and I hope they come true.  I want to do so much between now and then, but I also feel like I have accomplished so much.  I don’t want to leave Robin alone.  I don’t want to leave Brit and Cassy.  I have an unfinished blog about death that I'll post some day, I add little observations to it once in a while. Even though I'm not ready to go, I can not wait to see 1 and 2 again. Oh how I want to see my grandmother. Sometimes, even though I hardly smell anything since my sinus surgery, I catch a whiff of her perfume. I wonder if she's right here with me when that happens?  I miss the ones that have gone so much.  I hurt for them every day, God I hope I get to see them again.

I’ll try to inject some positivity into our little talk.  Even though I am madder than hell about aging, I accept it.  I’ve lived a great life and I know it.  I was blessed, truly blessed, to have a great childhood and adulthood.  I certainly can’t complain about any of that.  Many of my friends have experienced much more heartache than I have and they have much more right to bitch about our age.  I’d like to do some things different, if I knew then what I know now kind of thing (I’d have shot and killed that fucking horse).  But overall it is what is and I’m satisfied.  I’m looking forward to retirement and living on a farm again.  I can’t wait to live on a road where I can drive by moonlight.  I want to feel what it’s like to be on the back of a horse running flat out with his ears back again.  There are many more fast cars and faster bikes in my future, and I have one more house to build.  The greatest thing about all that is that I’ll get to spend it with Robin, but even if we had nothing I would still be satisfied just being with her.

My purpose in writing this was to vent, of course, but honestly if you feel like I do I want you to know that you’re not alone.  I think some of you hate it too and I share your anguish lol.  We’re in this boat together and I’m here for you... O’ Gray One.  40 is sucking right now but 50 isn’t that far away and it’s going to suck worse.  Make the most of the decade and be “younger than your age.”  That’s my advice, I’ll try to follow it myself.  If I can 8)

So, this has been me ranting about getting old.  It happens.  I don’t bitch much in my blogs so please allow me this self pity.  Thanks.  

See you soon,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1 and 3

Over the years a lot of people have asked me for my middle name, “you need to put your middle name here not just the initial L.” What most don’t know is that L. stands for nothing at all, and yet to me it stands for everything.

The story of my name began in 1921, then went through a significant change in 1945 to become the name I carry today. You see, I am the third Lloyd L. Lambert and the story of my name quite a tale.

My grandfather was born April 6, 1921 as one of 17 children into a family of farmers in Oklahoma. His given name was Lloyd Ernest Lambert. He grew up working the fields and left school after the 8th grade to help his family. Life on the family farm was good and he told me a great many stories about his childhood. He even taught me how to “chop cotton” like he did as a kid. But then in 1941 everything changed. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and our country went to war. Lloyd Ernest was soon drafted into the Army and was eventually assigned to an EVAC hospital, the forerunner of M.A.S.H. units, in New Guinea. There he saw the great horrors men do to one another during war. He didn’t talk much about the great war, he liked to say that “I just drove a truck” while in the Pacific. He told me that he wondered if he would ever get back home to see his mother again.

After what must have seemed like a lifetime, the war was suddenly over. In 1945 Lloyd Ernest was shipped back to the ‘States and was due to be discharged at San Francisco. That’s where the story of my name takes a sharp turn. You see some clerk somewhere, a person none of us would ever meet, made a simple mistake that affected three men for the rest of their lives. The clerk typed my grandfather’s name as Lloyd L. Lambert instead of Lloyd E. Lambert on his discharge paperwork. Upon seeing this my grandfather informed the clerks of the simple mistake. However, the clerks had literally thousands and thousands of soldiers to discharge. The time needed to rewrite his discharge papers; two weeks.

Lloyd Ernest thought for a long minute and then he had an idea. He set out in a taxi cab bound for the San Francisco courthouse. He wasn’t going to wait two weeks to see his family. No way, not after the years he had been overseas getting shot at. At the courthouse, he legally changed his name to Lloyd L. Lambert and his discharge paperwork became correct. And the L.? What does the shiny new L. stand for? Absolutely nothing, initial only. He was in such a great hurry that he didn’t stop to think up a name, none that he liked anyway. He rushed back to the base and was discharged from the Army as scheduled. I think today that would be called “thinking outside the box.” He left the farm as one man and returned as another, in more ways than one.

Four years later my father was born and became Lloyd L. Lambert Jr. In 1971 another firstborn son came into this world and became Lloyd L. Lambert iii. 1 2 and 3 Three men, same name. Initial only.

So, now that you know the story of what my name means to the world let me tell you what it means to me. That L. represents, in essence, my grandfather. He took an active role in raising me when I came to live with him and my grandmother as a baby. He was a quiet man, honest and hard working. He rose before the sun to provide for his family nearly every day of his life. I always took for granted that he knew the answer for everything. If I didn’t know what to do, all I had to do was look to him because doing whatever he was doing would be the right thing. I think Ernest was a great middle name for him, I never saw him be dishonest or unfair. I think that part of him lives on in me and I struggle to keep his quiet and calm persona at the forefront. I know he had disdain and dislike for a people and such, but he never showed it.

While 2 worked and provided, 1 and 3 spent years and years together. 1 taught me now to swim, to drive, to hunt, to fish, to ride and rope. I could go on all day telling you about all he taught me. He taught me some things about women too, but I won’t divulge any of his trade secrets here. He and my grandmother would take me out of grade school for weeks at a time to go on trips, just the three of us. By the time I was 8 years old I had swam in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf. I had been out of the country to Mexico where we shopped and were checked for fruit flies on the way back into the U.S. When Columbia made her first landing at Mojave in 1981 I was there. Parked on an interstate overpass sitting on the roof of the car with our binoculars. I still have the pictures. Their love was wrapped around me like a warm blanket and those memories are some of the greatest of my life.

Lloyd Sr. would continue to be the great influence in my life into my 30s. Always answering my questions and helping me with life’s little dramas. I talked to him each and every week after I moved out of state and my wife and I visited as much as we could. But when my grandmother passed away unexpectedly a huge part of him went with her. He was lost without her and he knew it. He spent three years waiting to see her. Then, one night early into the fall, he went to be with her. He died just as he lived, quietly and without a fight. On more than one occasion he had asked me if it bothered me that he was ready to go and be with my grandmother, he said it had bothered my father to hear him say that. I told him no, and that I though he was a full gown man and if he was ready then that’s all there was to it. He was 83 years old and it was the worst pain I have ever known.

I can’t really put into words what 1 means to me. It’s immeasurable the love and respect I have for him. The things he taught me, the things he took the time to teach me, have served me well every day of my life. I’ve said before, I see carrying his name as an honor. To be named for such a man has been the great privilege of my life. As 3, I will always strive to be all the things I saw in 1. I believe he lives on in me today and when I’m faced with a choice I always try to think what 1 would do. And I always try to be Lloyd Ernest.

If you have or have had someone like this in your life then you and I are in a very exclusive club. We were blessed by God and don’t ever forget how lucky we are to have had them. Not everyone gets to experience a love like this. Cherish it.

In closing, I’d like to say that it took me several sessions of writing before I completed this story. And though I am not an emotional person by nature, it took me many many tears too. I found it hard to describe how deeply I love 1 and how I will always be proud to be 3. I hope that came across to you. I believe that when you die, someone will be standing there waiting for you. Someone reaching out a hand to you from the nothingness, ready to show you the way.

I already know who my person is and he’s got the same name as me.