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The bumps are what make the ride fun

One of the advantages of being retired is the wisdom that accumulates within the core of who were are. My evolutionary stages of life include the “brat,” the “selfish teen,” the “party guy,” the “money maker” and finally the “reflection before dying” phase.

I am joyfully grounded in the reflection period, and in some ways it is extremely enlightening, and in some ways it’s kind of mind-numbing. Yes, I have regrets. Don’t you?

When I was born, I entered into this world as the youngest of four. This put me on the bottom of the Hunter sibling pecking order. For me it was all about survival, and I adapted. I survived. This would be my “brat” stage, a time in my life that would teach me to remain under the radar. Out of sight, out of mind was a philosophy of mine that didn’t always work.

The “selfish teen” era was literally a carefree period. Even though my folks were strict disciplinarians, by the time I entered into my teens, my three siblings had my parents worn out. I pretty much lived by my rules, while remaining beneath that parental radar. As long as I stayed out of hospitals or jail, I could come and go as I pleased.

Some of the decisions I made during these years were incredibly mature and responsible, and then there were those decisions that were nothing less than incredibly stupid. I can remember speeding around on motorcycles (without helmet) and crashing parties that a young impressionable teenager shouldn’t be allowed to attend. Yes, I survived my teen years. But so many of my friends didn’t.

One thing my teen years did provide was a love for social interaction (parties). If there was’t a gathering already planned, all it took was a few phone calls with as little as a two-hour advanced notice. All you need in order to host an epic event is a place to gather, great music (live performances were always preferred) and a reputation. I had all three. I lovingly refer to this decade as my “roaring 20s.”

Like everything in life, things change. As I entered into my 30s, and beyond, I realized that it was time to put away childish things. It was now time to act grown up, and I did. Now was time to focus on having a family, my financials and my future. This was to be my world for the next three decades and beyond.

So here I am today in my mid-60s, only a couple of months away from signing up for Medicare. For me, the main focus of this final stage of life is the reflection of who we are and from where we came. Within the past year I have located old friends from elementary school, and even offered apologies to those I may have offended in those early years. Regrets, I have a few.

I have so much to reflect on, so much to be thankful for. Who has time for regrets at this age? If you have your health, you’re one of the lucky ones. I like to call my life’s challenges bumps in the road. Having Parkinson’s, along with a few other health issues (most related to aging), when I pray, I like to include thanks for my bumps in the road. Without those bumps how can we grow?

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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