The Meaning Of Life
Jeffrey Spring sat on a park bench looking up at the clear blue sky and the green grass and he couldn’t stop crying. It was a beautiful day and the fact that he couldn’t control his emotions was completely out of character.
Things had been building up inside of Jeffrey for months and now that his sixtieth birthday was approaching he found himself feeling loss and lost.
The title ‘’Mamma’s Boy’’ would have fit Jeffrey perfectly. He loved his parents with every ounce of strength in his body, and since they both passed he was a different person. His Dad had passed at eighty seven and his Mom had made it to ninety three which in many ways was a real miracle. They both lived long lives but Jeffrey didn't care, he felt they had left the world before their time.
In nineteen seventy one, a woman had driven through a stop sign and crashed into his Mother’s car. She had been put in a body cast and the family was told it was touch and go. After a couple of years of physiotherapy his Mother was as busy as she'd ever been. Years later, she broke her hip, and after that she suffered a heart attack, but she was an indomitable person and bounced back stronger every time. In the end she died because of ‘’pneumonia’’.
Jeffrey’s Father had a kidney taken out because of cancer, he had a heart attack, and spent fifteen years on dialysis. He passed because the dialysis had weakened his heart and he couldn’t fight the damage. He never stopped loving and doing everything he could for his family.
Now that Jeffrey was turning sixty he missed everything about them. In particular he missed their sage and important advice. He could have used their thoughts on so many different things and now he was in a terrible limbo land.
One of the things he inherited from his parents was the family home. It was a modest house of fourteen hundred square feet that held sixty three years worth of stuff that his Mom had accumulated. Everything from Royal Dalton figurines to ornate china cabinets.
Then there was the question of where to live? Should he sell the house and move into a condo? The questions seemed to be never ending
As Jeffrey sat on the bench, he started reflecting on his sixty years. Had he maximized them? Had he truly made every minute count? Had he accomplished anything of note that he would be remembered by? After he was gone would he be more than a passing thought. There was a saying from the Jewish Midrash, ''A person is never dead as long as they aren't forgotten.'' Who would remember him? At the end of the life cycle was the headstone at the cemetery the only thing that would remind people he lived?
Jeffrey had no children of his own, somehow during his life he never created a family with a woman he loved. As a tear rolled down his face at the thought, there was a sadness that engulfed him. He had never been a party boy or a philanderer, he had just never had a child, and much of it was because he never felt he had the financial resources to bring up children properly. It was another reason he never got married.
He had enjoyed the work he did in his business of accounting, but he had small clients and never really broke into the big leagues. He was a sole practitioner and even though he brought in people to work with him during tax season, he never really grew his business.
So, there he sat looking at the birds flying and wondering why he wasn't going South. He owned a condo in Florida, but only got to visit it three or four times a winter for a few days at a time. It had been his parents and it was something he had inherited and he was asking himself if he should put it up for sale. There was so much unsettled in his life.
Jeffrey started thinking about his Dad and the manufacturing plant he owned. His Father's company ''Armbruster Over All's'' made men's work clothes and he had done very well. When the Chinese manufacturers started to flood the Canadian market, he was pressured by the bank to pay his line of credit and he ended up selling the company to one of his competitors. It was sad for the family because Armbruster had always been a market leader. Jeffrey's Dad, Philip said to him ''Nothing lasts forever, Armbrusters gave us a good life.''' His Dad never encouraged him to get into the business because of the long hours and the aggravation. As Jeffrey sat on the bench he wished he wouldn't have listened to his Dad, and he had taken over and kept the business running.
Jeffrey always thought he lived his life without regrets, yet here he was full of them. The tears didn't want to stop streaming and he couldn't quite understand what was going on. He was happy to be alive, he believed in tomorrow, and more importantly he loved life. So why the melancholy.
All of a sudden there was a moment of clarity and Jeffrey understood perfectly. It was because sixty years had passed and that didn't leave a lot of time for do-overs. Things he should've. could've, and would've done. He had maybe fifteen years of productivity ahead and then what, he would be officially old.
The fear of the unknown was intimidating. When you are born you have your Mom and Dad as security. They are there to guide you and give you unconditional love. As you get older the dynamics change but in the back of the mind there is always the knowledge that no matter what, you have people who are your supporters. When they leave, there is a void. Moving forward into older age means competing with younger people for opportunities and praying you don't run out of money so you can live a comfortable life. It means dealing with potential health issues and finding ways to stay happy.
It was at that moment that Jeffrey knew what he was going to do. There was an orphanage that did great work, he knew a couple of people who had visited it, and he was going to give them his support. He was going to start spending his winter months at the Condo in Florida, he could do work from there if he had to. He would start living life to the fullest. He was going to take painting lessons, it was something that always interested him. He was going to find his soulmate. He had been single long enough.
He would sell his parent's home and buy a condo, the only thing bothering him and something he couldn't figure out was what he was going to do with all the collectibles.
Everything in theory was wonderful, he had no idea how his life would turn out in reality. The tears were still rolling down. It was embarrassing. He hadn't cried this hard since Mother's funeral.
As he stood up to go back to his office and resume helping people file their taxes and figure out capital gains, he sighed a heavy sigh. That was until a young mother with a little boy of about five and a little girl of about two entered the park.
Jeffrey sat back down and watched them play. He watched the Mom kiss a booboo on the little girl's knee and give her and the little boy chocolate chip cookies. He smiled for the first time all day. A Mother's love was special.
On the way out of the park, Jeffrey had one more epiphany. During his life he had been very close with his parents. He had been there for them when they needed him and they had always been there for him. His sixty years had been filled with happiness and love. He hadn't scaled every mountain, but he had enjoyed the journey. He was going to work hard to try for another forty more years at least. He knew his parents were in heaven looking down on him, so that would help make his journey much easier. Everything was about remembering the past but not getting stuck in it. He was starting a new chapter and he was now ready to write some beautiful prose. He also would fill the metaphorical canvas with his own original beautiful paintings. He was ready to get started, the tears were gone. Maybe it was because the last thing he saw when exiting the park was the Mommy kissing her two little kids and softly singing to them ''Never fear, Mommy will never go away.''