After turning sixty a few years ago, I really started to appreciate a line of dialogue from It’s a Wonderful Life, the Frank Capra Christmas movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. An old gent is on his porch watching Mary being “talked to death” by George, and he calls out to shut up and just kiss her. He ends with “Youth is wasted on the young!”
Joining the Navy to see the world fulfilled a dream. Getting sidetracked for nearly a decade after a brief enlistment, by college, a retail job and complicated personal entanglements, ambitious dreams were abandoned, just like George Bailey’s several crises in that movie. George had to go through experiencing what life would have been like without him, to appreciate the life and relationships he had. The happy conclusion of the movie shows that it is the relationships you have with others that makes it a wonderful life.
I re-enlisted in the military to escape my “Bedford Falls”, but it took ten more years till I met my “Mary”. For 25 years, we both worked hard to afford a lifestyle that supported our family but also paid for the lifestyle compensating for all the long hours of work. But like George realized when Clarence brought him through his experiences and back to his family, life is enjoyed through relationships. Though we do travel occasionally, as semi-retired and self-employed business partners, ironically we spend more time at home together than pursuing a “lifestyle”.
We are thinking about adopting a furry companion or two again. An older dog may be exactly our speed. Forever homes are always needed and San Diego like everywhere, has more animals than adoptions. Seeing the number of local dogs seven, ten, and even 15 years old available via Petfinders, it bothers me that breeders are still in business, and people via Craigslist and social media still hawk puppies that may eventually wind up in shelters. We cannot do anything about them, but we can adopt one or more old fellows. While we prepare our hearts, we think it very likely and soon, our home will again bear witness to wafts of dog hair and dog toys underfoot.