The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
* * *
Last Sunday evening Paula and I sat on a small balcony outside our third-story room at the Waterside Inn in Chincoteague watching the sun sink slowly over the bay and squeeze through a bank of shredded clouds, ablaze.
A bird flapped silently through the gloaming. A skiff puttered homeward. Water lapped softly against a wooden pier. A raft of ducks squawked. A red light swiveled on a distant tower. A bottle of red wine sat on a table between us.
We filled our glasses and raised them to the dimming of another day on planet earth. We spoke of our children, our grandchildren, and of friends now gone.
Out of the blue last week, my six-year-old grandson asked me, How old are you, Grandy?
Seventy-four, I told him.
Seventy-four?! SEVENTY-FOUR?! Are you sure?
Yes, I’m sure!
WOW. That means you’ve been around the sun 74 times!
(I’ll take that. Way better than: WOW. You’re almost dead! But I get his point: I am on the dimming side of life, puttering across the bay.)
Don’t look now but our bodies keep slowly sinking down. This old world keeps spinning round. Years come and go. I never used to count. But these days I do.
Time flaps silently by.
It seems that I was 60 only yesterday, and 16 the day before that. By tomorrow I’ll be 86, sitting on the balcony, watching the sun set, raising a glass of wine, thumbing my nose at six-year-olds.
Paula and I have sat on that balcony at least a dozen times over the past 25 years, always in October. Chincoteague is not the most spectacular place on earth. It’s no Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls, or Isle of Skye. But it’s nice.
It’s a fishing village nestled between the ocean and the bay and just a skip and a hop away from Assateague, a refuge for migrating birds.
It’s a nice place to rest your wings, catch your breath, and contemplate the journey ahead.
Over a glass of wine, of course.