Jul 12: Reflections
This week I reach my "allotted" three score years and ten, so it's a good moment to look back, reflect on whether I should have done anything differently and - looking forward - wonder if every day is a bonus from now on?
Childhood seems so long ago but the memories of my two loving parents remain. By example, they taught me the importance of stability, frugality and basic honest principles. My Mother also taught me to believe in her god, something I later came to regret and profoundly reject.
They supported me and got me going in life, before I turned my back on them and my close friends to migrate to Australia at the age of twenty-five. When people ask me why I did this, I usually tell them: "It seemed like a good idea at the time". There were some errors of judgment in that decision but the grass is always greener on the other side - and in most respects it was. I found Australia to be a far better living environment, despite some of the attractions England has.
Sadly, only fifteen months after I migrated, the devastating news came by telegram that Dad had died. He was seventy-four and I was only twenty-six. I tried to return for the funeral but Australian Immigration placed tough conditions on me that I was unable to meet, so I could not attend. I have forever since been haunted by the memory that I was not there for my Mum and that maybe I did not try hard enough....
It brought home to me the stark reality and guilt of my separation from family and friends and so I pondered the various pros and cons of going back to England when my two year migration period expired.
Here in Australia, I had made many new friends, had found a purpose in life and enjoyed the new lifestyle and warmer climate. Yet I was still battling to re-establish my career to the high levels of responsibility that I had been entrusted with in England - and I missed family and others.
The decision making process may have been flawed up to that point but the time for a decision passed, I stayed and I met my Bride. The rest is history. We've been very happily married for forty-two years this week and I wouldn't change anything now.
I found a good company to work for and stayed there for twenty-six years but they failed to change with the times and went into liquidation. (It wasn't my fault!)
Joan and I went on to raise three wonderful children and we now also have four fantastic granddaughters. How can there be any regrets about staying in Australia!
When Mum died in 2009, we went back to England for the funeral, so my conscience was clear in that regard but I do wish that I had communicated with her more than I did.
My biggest regrets, though, are not about what I have done or did not do. They are about the way this world is. The human race to which I belong is violent and bloodthirsty. Crazed belief systems shape our laws and our deeds. With stupid religious beliefs we have destroyed our own kind for all of recorded history and that still continues. Women and children get a raw deal. With our industrialisation and over-population, we are incapable of living without degrading our living environment. If the Earth were itself a live being, it would regard humanity as a festering skin cancer. We could be so much better.
Now, Joan and I are in our golden years and we are both happily following our hobbies in retirement. Joan continues with the many crafts which attract her interest. I hope she continues with all those long after I have gone, despite the hardships which she constantly endures as a result of the unfortunate accident which she suffered nearly twenty years ago.
At seventy, I keep myself active with photography and astronomy interests. Macarthur Astronomical Society has been close to my heart since the day it was formed in 1996. I was proud to serve as its Secretary for several years and I am now the only financial member who was present at the inaugural meeting.
The Macarthur Astronomy Forum and dinners with our guest speakers are monthly highlights for me, along with field observing trips with Society friends. I have been editing the MAS website since 2008 and recently I took over as MAS spokesperson on Twitter.
The rest of the time I enjoy keeping up with current affairs and on-line interests, including social media, running my four blog sites and maintaining three photographic galleries. Health issues remain for us both but the outlook is still positive, so there is no reason to think that the final curtain is just around the corner for either of us - but as the years roll by, the reality that we are not immortal does become more apparent.
It's sobering that 10% of the people who ever lived are now alive today - and that the vast majority of those who went before probably didn't achieve even half the age that I have already.
However, I was "dead" for 13.7 billion years before my birth in 1945 and I will someday revert to that same state of non-existance when I die. I hope to orbit the Sun many more times before that happens - and learn a lot more about the fundamental nature of this Universe before I go.
So here's to my wife, my children, my grandchildren and - who knows - maybe one or two great grandchildren before I go!