We spend our years as a tale that is told. 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.
(Psalm 90:9,10 & 12)
There you have it, according to Moses three score and ten years is our best before date. And I have passed it. I don’t expect to go sour, like milk does when you keep it around too long, but I realize that the best years of physical strength and stamina are behind me.
It’s hard to believe that 70 years have passed so quickly. About 15 years ago, or maybe 20, I heard myself telling some youngster about how things were when I was young. Inwardly I said, “Whoa! It used to be that only old people talked like that!” I have gotten over that shock by now and thought I would share a couple memories that prove I really do go back that far.
My earliest memory goes back to the summer of 1945 when I was three years old and we moved from my father’s homestead farm near the southwestern end of Old Wives Lake to a new farm he had bought near the eastern end of the lake, a distance of 25 km. (Back then they would have said 15 miles.)
We had been living in the small two storey house that my father had built. At the bottom of the stairs, not far from the front door, a wooden box was mounted on the wall. Every once in a while, at any time of the day, loud ringing noises would come from this box. Sometimes when it rang, but not every time, my father or mother would go and talk into it. There seemed to be a difference between the number and the length of the ringing noises that my parents understood. I didn’t, I was afraid of that box and its noises.
Yet, just before we left that house forever, I understood that now it couldn’t make any ringing noises or talk back to me. So I stood on a chair, held the ear piece to my ear and chattered away into the mouthpiece. My mother had to carry me away.
We had a black and white collie dog named Penny who was my protector. I presume we had him at the old farm, but I don’t remember that. There was a barn on the new farm, some distance from the house, and I badly wanted to go and explore it. But every time I tried to walk towards the barn Penny would bar my way and I could not get around him. I don’t remember this, but my mother told me years later that there had to be a closed door between us and Penny before she could apply any discipline.